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.
Cathleen S. Lewis, curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM), interviewed Oleg Gazenko, Evgenii Shepelev, and Abraham Genin about their research and participation in the Soviet aviation and space medicine program prior to 1964, as well as their work at the Institute. Lewis was primarily interested in documenting early work in the fields of aviation and space medicine. She also visually documented museum exhibits about the Institute's work in space exploration.
Session one took place at the museum of The Institute for Biomedical Problems. Cathleen Lewis and Andreas Tamberg (interpreter) conducted a group discussion with Gazenko, Genin, and Shepelev. In session two, Gazenko narrated a tour of the museum gallery of IMBP, which showed the use of animals in space exploration. In session three, Genin narrated a tour of the museum gallery of manned space exploration, which documented the development of the spacesuit, parachute systems, and factors for life maintenance in space.
In session four, Gireeva and Magedov led tours in the Institute's Primate Space Flight Training Facility, where they discussed primate training and conditioning in preparation for space flight. Session five documented interior and exterior shots of IMBP, without narration. Finally, an audio interview with Shepelev described his work in space medicine.
This collection consists of five videotaped interview sessions, totalling approximately 5:00 hours of recordings, and 86 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 15 original videotapes (13 Beta videotapes, and 2 U-matic videotapes), 7 dubbing master videotapes (7 U-matic videotapes), and 6 reference copy videotapes (6 VHS videotapes). Also included is one audio interview, totaling approximately 1:15 hours of audiotape, and 19 pages of transcript. The collection has been remastered digitally, with 15 motion jpeg 2000 and 15 mpeg digital files for preservation, and 7 Windows Media Video and 7 Real Media Video digital files for reference.
All sessions were conducted in Russian with some English translation. Sessions were transcribed verbatim in Russian and were then translated to English.