This collection is arranged into four series and chronologically within each series. Included are Series 1: Films Produced by the Museum of the American Indian, 1923-1927; Series 2: Films Acquired by the Museum of the American Indian, 1923-1924; Series 3: Documentation of Museum of the American Indian Activities, 1917-1938; and Series 4: Paper Records of the Ethnographic Film Collection. Titles within subseries are generally arranged alphabetically, with unrestricted titles listed before those restricted due to culturally sensitive content.
Within the collection, each unit of motion picture film (reel, videotape, or DVD) is assigned an identifying number. In this system, the final four appended numbers correspond to a title and a format. The full identifying number will appear as such: NMAI.AC.001.001.XX.YY, where XX corresponds to a numbered title and YY indicates the format of the print, as follows:
01: 35mm print (1917–1938, circa the original film dates)
02: 16mm dupe neg (made circa 1961 from XX.01 35mm)
03: 16mm print (from XX.02 for release, circa 1961)
04: 16mm print (from XX.02 for file/work or research, circa 1961)
05: 35mm dupe neg (preservation copy, made 2012–2014 from XX.01 and XX.02)
06: 35mm answer print (made 2012-2014 from XX.05)
07: Digital Betacam (preservation copy, made 2012-2014 from XX.06)
08, 09, 10 (if applicable): DVD (access copy, made 2012-2014 from XX.06)
11 and up: other copies and prints (see title-level notes for explanations)
Thus, for instance, the item with the number NMAI.AC.001.001.02.03 is the 16mm release print copy of the title "Deerskin Tanning and Wrapping the Leggings."
The content of each print or negative corresponding to the same title (XX) may be identical or similar. The content of the 1917-1938-era 35mm prints and the 1960s-era 16mm films differ. As the 35mm prints had deteriorated, damaged footage was removed prior to producing the 16mm negatives. After the 16mm negatives were produced, nitrate intertitles and additional damaged footage were also removed from the 35mm prints. The 2012-2014-era 35mm films were made by combining the existing 35mm prints with footage from the 16mm negatives in order to restore the most complete existing content to its highest possible quality. The Digital Betacam and DVD copies reproduce this restored footage.
This preservation and restoration effort was made possible by funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation, Save America's Treasures, and the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, as well as support from the National Museum of the American Indian.