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Documentary Educational Resources Collection

In 2008, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) donated its collection of 16mm distribution printsnearly 700 titles strong spanning the dates 1954-2005. The DER Collection is one of the most historically important resources of ethnographic film in the world today. Founded in 1968 by filmmakers John Marshall and Timothy Asch for the purpose of producing and distributing cross-cultural documentary film for educational use, DER was an early innovator in developing media-based curriculum for the classroom.

During the early 1970s, DER concentrated on two major projects. These were a longitudinal series of films by John Marshall on the !Kung San (Ju/'hoansi) peoples of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, and a series of films by anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon and filmmaker Timothy Asch on the Yanomamo Indians of the Orinoco Region in southern Venezuela. These two series cemented DER's reputation as a quality producer and distributor of 16mm films with a wide appeal to university audiences, and provided the foundation for acceptance of the organization as an international center for anthropological and sociological film. In 1975, John Marshall and Timothy Asch were also key figures in establishing the Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian Institution and their bodies of work are among the most significant ethnographic collections within the HSFA.   

John Marshall's films about the Ju/'hoansi and his documentation of the Pittsburgh Police (1969-70), as well as the Asch and Chagnon Yanomamo films form the heart of the collection, yet it also includes documentaries made around the world, investigating a wide variety of cultures, including the indigenous culture of the Alaskan Inuit, the colorful folklife of Andalusia, political and cultural diversity in Kenya and the Sahel region of Africa, trance and healing in Bali, music and dance in New England, and a range of films on American life and heritage.

For more information on DER, visit their website.