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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Smithsonian Institution: Human Studies Film Archives

Introductory Information

Smithsonian Institution: Human Studies Film Archives External

Address: Museum Support Center, 4210 Silver Hill Road, Suitland MD,20746

Telephone number: 301-238-1330

Contact information: [email protected] or [email protected]

Online catalog External

Digital Collections link:
Smithsonian Collection Search Center External
Smithsonian Open Access External

Access Policies

Hours of service: Tuesday –Friday 9:30 - 4:30 pm.

Open to the public: Yes, by appointment

Interlibrary loan: No

Reference policy: Reference requests are accepted by telephone and email

Background note:
The Human Studies Film Archives was established by the Smithsonian Institution in 1981. The program is now part of the National Anthropological Archives.


Videos and sound recordings
The collection holds films and video tapes with inclusive dates from 1908 to the present. Religions, in the broadest sense, from all major geographical areas are represented in the HSFA collections. Strengths lie in several areas: traditional religious beliefs and practices of the world's people; Tibetan Buddhism; and footage taken of and by Christian missionaries of indigenous peoples and missionary activities. Imagery can also be found on Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.

Over 100,000  color slides and color and black and white photographs from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. This collection accompanies the HSFA film and video collections. The emphases are the same as those given above under the film description.

Databases and/or electronic resources
Subscription resources External
Freely available resources External

Digital collections
Smithsonian Collection Search Center External
Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA) External
Smithsonian Open Access External

Subject Headings

African religions; Buddhism; Candomble; Catholic Church; Church buildings; Comparative religion; Death--religious aspects; Indigenous religion; Prayer; Reincarnation; Religion--United States; Religious art; Religious syncretism; Revitalization movements; Revivals; Ritual; Saints; Shamanism; Shinto; Shrines; Snake handling; Spirit possession; Spiritualism; Symbolism; Tantrism; Totemism; Umbanda; Voodoo; Women and religion; Worship