Twentieth Century Small Arms Development Interviews,
1988-1990

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 9532
Dates:
1988-1990
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
files (Reference copies).
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
The Smithsonian Videohistory Program, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation from 1986 until 1992, used video in historical research. Additional collections have been added since the grant project ended. Videohistory uses the video camera as a historical research tool to record moving visual information. Video works best in historical research when recording people at work in environments, explaining artifacts, demonstrating process, or in group discussion. The experimental program recorded projects that reflected the Institution's concern with the conduct of contemporary science and technology.
Smithsonian historians participated in the program to document visual aspects of their on-going historical research. Projects covered topics in the physical and biological sciences as well as in technological design and manufacture. To capture site, process, and interaction most effectively, projects were taped in offices, factories, quarries, laboratories, observatories, and museums. Resulting footage was duplicated, transcribed, and deposited in the Smithsonian Institution Archives for scholarship, education, and exhibition. The collection is open to qualified researchers.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
Dr. Edward C. Ezell, curator for the Armed Forces Division of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (NMAH), recorded twelve interviews with two of the last solo designers. Eugene M. Stoner of the United States and Mikhail T. Kalashnikov of the former Soviet Union are responsible for the M16 and AK47 automatic rifles, two of the most popular firearms in the world since 1945. Ezell was interested in the process by which the men developed and produced their designs and in their experiences with their respective military bureaucracies. The interviewees detailed how they became involved in small arms design and how their weapons improved on those already in service. The sessions also documented visually the evolution of the design of the rifles, and the composition and assembly of their components. The interviews were recorded in Port Clinton, Ohio; Leningrad and Moscow, Soviet Union; and Star Tannery, Virginia, between April 1988 and May 1990, and are organized into three collection divisions.
This collection consists of thirteen interview sessions, totaling approximately 18:40 hours of recordings, and 214 pages of transcript. There are three generations of tape for each session: originals, dubbing masters, and reference copies. In total, this collection is comprised of 56 original videotapes (56 Beta videotapes), 25 dubbing master videotapes (25 U-matic videotapes), and 15 reference copy videotapes (15 VHS videotapes).
All sessions were shot professionally and are available to researchers on VHS cassette. All Sessions have been transcribed and translated into English; pertinent visual information has been summarized and keyed to a time code. Dubbing master tapes are on U-matic and are available through special arrangement. The collection has been remastered digitally, with motion jpeg 2000 and mpeg digital files for preservation, and Windows Media Video and Real Media Video digital files for reference.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Technological and organizational developments have changed the way military small arms are designed in the second half of the twentieth century. The use of alloys and composite materials require more specialized knowledge than one individual can master, and bureaucratized weapon procurement policies require a corporate group to finance and represent innovative weapon concepts. Consequently, it has become almost impossible for one man to design, build, and market a new small arm.

Notes
Oral Histories

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9532, Twentieth Century Small Arms Development Interviews

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ezell, Edward Clinton Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kalashnikov, M. T. (Mikhail Timofeevich), 1919- Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
AR15 Automatic Rifle. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
M16 Automatic Rifle. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
ARES Incorporated. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Soviet Union. Small Arms Weapons. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
AK47 Automatic Rifle. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
PKM Machine Gun. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
RPK74 Machine Gun. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
History of science and technology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Military history Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Engineering Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stoner, Eugene M. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ezell, Edward Clinton interviewer. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kalashnikov, M. T. (Mikhail Timofeevich), 1919- interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu