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.
Ramunas Kondratas, National Museum of American History, conducted videotaped interviews at Spinco to document the history of ultracentrifuge technology. Interviewees included Phyllis, M. Browning, Michael Cahn, Robert Stanley Carey, Robert E. Cunningham, Noli L. de la Cruz, James D. Duty, Giancarlo Ernoli, Jack Finney, Robert C. Franklin, Robert Frederito, Scott Gammon, Brian George, Dean Hanquist, Robert Indig, Kenneth C. Johnson, Eva T. Juhos, Benson Kwan, C. Richard McEwen, Frank Meze, Patrick O. Moore, James C. Osborne, Mehmet Pamukco, Fred J. Pisturino, Frank Richards, Ron Ridgeway, Louis T. Rosso, Howard K. Schachman, Karen F. Shore, Robert Slocum, Carol Smith, Paul Voelker, Eugene B. West, and James Woodall, at Beckman Coulter, Spinco Division, in Palo Alto and Fullerton, California. Participants discussed the history and development of ultracentrifuge technology, research and development, the commercial manufacture of the equipment, drive and heat-sink assembly, optics assembly, business and marketing. Visual documentation included tours of research and manufacturing facilities.
This collection is comprised of 24 interview sessions, totaling approximately 14 hours of recording. There are one or more original videotapes for each session. In total, this collection is comprised of 24 original analog and digital video tapes and transcripts. There are two generations of recordings for each session: analog and digital videotape originals and digital video reference copies.