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.
Curator Joseph N. Tatarewicz, historian Martin Collins, and curator Paul Ceruzzi of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) conducted the eight interview sessions with three RAND moderators and twenty-two participants to document the unique role RAND played after 1945 in the military-industrial complex. In the first three sessions Tatarewicz and Collins interviewed three men who discussed the aerial reconnaissance technology RAND developed for the Air Force. In the fourth session Collins and RAND vice president Gus Shubert interviewed six former division heads who discussed the changing intellectual culture of the Corporation as it related to strategic policy development. In the last four sessions Paul Ceruzzi and RAND staff researchers Robert Anderson and Willis Ware interviewed thirteen men who helped pioneer computer development at RAND between 1945 and the late 1960s. Most of the sessions featured diagrams, photographs, and various artifacts to complement the discussion. The interviews were recorded in Santa Monica, California, and Washington, D.C., between January 1987 and June 1990.
This collection consists of eight interview sessions, separated into three series, totaling approximately 22:36 hours of recordings and 497 pages of transcript.
The RAND (Research and Development) Corporation of Santa Monica, California, began as a United States Air Force Project in 1945 under contract to the Douglas Aircraft Company. Its broadly defined function was to study American national security and, in particular, the role of airpower in that context. Three years later, the Ford Foundation endowed RAND as a private, nonprofit research corporation "to further and promote scientific, educational and charitable purposes" to the nation's general benefit. As one of the first American "think tanks," however, its staff focused primarily on military and strategic issues funded by the U.S. government.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9536, The Research and Development (RAND) Corporation Videohistory Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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