The Lisa Chickering and Jeanne Porterfield collection documents their work as travel filmmakers, photographers, and writers from 1954-2015. Their films are an example of the travel lecture film, a genre which combined silent travelogue films with live narration. Chickering and Porterfield presented their films throughout the United States and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s before turning to freelance still photography and travel writing in the early 1980s. The audiovisual and photography collection begins with their first joint travels in the 1950s and covers a range of their professional activities through the early 2000s, mainly encompassing original travel footage, edited travelogues, and travel still photography. Supporting documentation includes film scripts, lecture recordings, personal and professional manuscripts, financial and professional records, and a substantial amount of newspaper and magazine articles which serve as a record of the press generated by and about Chickering and Porterfield.
Scope and Contents:
The Lisa Chickering and Jeanne Porterfield collection documents their work as travel filmmakers, photographers, and writers from 1954-2015. The audiovisual and photography collection begins with their first joint travels in the 1950s and covers a range of their professional activities through the early 2000s, mainly encompassing original travel footage, edited travelogues, and travel still photography. Supporting documentation includes film scripts, lecture recordings, personal and professional manuscripts, financial and professional records, and a substantial amount of newspaper and magazine articles which serve as a record of the press generated by and about Chickering and Porterfield.
Records pertaining to Chickering and Porterfield's film career include full lecture scripts for their five major silent travel films: Austria à la Carte (1960), Caribbean Dutch Treat (1963), Bravo Portugal! (1965), Europe's Mini-Countries (1968), and Winter in Mexico (1973). Chickering and Porterfield delivered these scripts at venues throughout the United States in front of live audiences while the (silent) travelogues were screened behind them, essentially acting as live narrators. Silent access copies are available for each of these films except for Austria à la Carte; audio recordings of their live lectures are available for Austria à la Carte, Caribbean Dutch Treat, Winter in Mexico. Reference video is also available for Chickering and Porterfield's two shorter sound films: Four Seasons of Austria (1962) and Portugal with Pleasure (1968). Other film material includes several sets of lecture tour records listing dates, locations, topics, and fees, as well as a large amount of advertising material.
Also included in this collection are a large number of published and unpublished manuscripts, including both personal projects and assignment travel writing. Several personal narrative essays and more complete memoir drafts give insight into Chickering and Porterfield's filmmaking process, industry tips, and travel methods, as well as anecdotes from the field. Assignment travel writing ranges geographically, with a focus on cruise ships.
Other materials in the collection include extensive inventories of still photography, personal and professional correspondence, and a substantial amount of printed material which was retained as a central resource for press generated by and about Chickering and Porterfield.
This collection is arranged in 9 series: Series 1. Film documentation, 1959-1986, undated; Series 2. Still photography documentation, 1958-2004, undated; Series 3. Writings, 1954-1997, undated; Series 4. Printed material, 1959-2002, undated; Series 5. Other professional materials, 1987-2000, undated; Series 6. Correspondence, 1957-1992, 2000, 2015, undated; Series 7. Films and film-related sound recordings, circa 1960-2015; Series 8. Other audiovisual material, 1957, 1966, 1981, undated; Series 9. Photographs, 1956-2001, undated.
Biographical / Historical:
Lisa Chickering (1922-) and Jeanne Porterfield (1923-2010) were travel filmmakers, photographers, and writers in New York City whose professional output spanned from the 1960s through the early 2000s. Chickering and Porterfield first met in Chicago, where they were childhood friends and neighbors. Porterfield attended the University of Chicago and eventually earned a master's in musicology from the American Conservatory of Music, after which she trained under Uta Hagen to pursue stage and television acting; Chickering trained as an opera singer and pianist before turning to work as a stage and cabaret singer, as well as a model at the John Robert Powers Agency. The pair's filmmaking career began in 1954, when they traveled to Paris for a singing engagement Chickering had booked. When they arrived, they found the engagement had fallen through. Porterfield began to act as Chickering's agent, and the two cobbled together a three-year international tour, which they documented on an 8mm camera. Upon returning to New York in 1958, they incorporated a production company, Viewpoints, Inc., and returned to Europe to film their first professional project.
Viewpoints, Inc. released five full-length (70-80 minute) silent travelogues through the 1960s and early 1970s, set in Western European and North American tourist destinations: Austria à la Carte (1960), Caribbean Dutch Treat (1963), Bravo Portugal! (1965), Europe's Mini-Countries (1968), and Winter in Mexico (1973). Chickering and Porterfield acted as directors, producers, cinematographers, and editors on each film. The pair also presented these films on the travel lecture film circuit at venues in the United States and Canada ranging from Kiwanis clubs to major concert halls, narrating their silent footage onstage in front of live audiences.
Viewpoints, Inc. also released two shorter 30-minute public relations sound films sponsored by Volkswagen of America: Four Seasons of Austria (1962, which used footage from Austria à la Carte) and Portugal with Pleasure (1968, which used footage from Bravo Portugal!). Both of these films won awards at the American Film Festival. A third public relations film, co-sponsored by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and the Curaçao Tourism Board and titled Curaçao: The Caribbean Dutch Treat, was released in 1962 and used footage from Caribbean Dutch Treat.
Chickering and Porterfield turned to still photography in earnest in the 1980s and continued working through the early 2000s; their work was published as educational filmstrips as well as in various leading travel and lifestyle publications, including in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, Glamor, Gourmet, Harper's Bazaar, and Better Homes & Gardens. The pair also authored a number of travel features to accompany their photos, with a particular emphasis on cruise ships.
Porterfield died in 2010 in New York City, where Lisa still lives.
1922 -- Lisa Chickering born December 24 in Chicago, Illinois.
1923 -- Jeanne Porterfield born February 14 in Beloit, Wisconsin.
1954 -- First joint travels abroad
1958 -- Viewpoints, Inc. (production company) incorporated
1960 -- Austria à la Carte released
circa 1962 -- Recipients, Silver Plaque of Merit in Tourism from Austrian National Tourist Office
1962 -- Recipients, American Film Festival Blue Ribbon (for Four Seasons of Austria) Four Seasons of Austria released
1962 -- Recipients, Blue Ribbon from the American Film Festival Travel Category (for Four Seasons of Austria)
1963 -- Caribbean Dutch Treat released
1965 -- Bravo Portugal! released
1968 -- Europe's Mini-Countries released
1968 -- Recipients, American Film Festival Blue Ribbon (for Portugal with Pleasure) Portugal with Pleasure released
1968 -- Recipients, Blue Ribbon from the American Film Festival Travel Category (for Portugal with Pleasure)
1972-1975 -- Educational filmstrips photographed by Chickering and Porterfield distributed by the Society for Visual Education, Inc.
1973 -- Winter in Mexico released
circa 1975 -- Began working in still photography and travel writing
1982 -- Recipient (Porterfield), Grand Prize for Black and White Photography, Society of American Travel Writers
1983 -- Recipients, First and Second Prize, Society of American Travel Writers Freelance Council Photo Contest
1987-1990 -- President (Chickering), Travel Journalists' Guild
2008 -- Recipient (Chickering), Bern Keating Award for Lifetime Service, Travel Journalists' Guild
2010 -- Died (Porterfield) January 15 in New York, New York.
This collection was donated to the National Anthropological Film Collection (formerly the Human Studies Film Archives) by Lisa Chickering in 2015.
The Lisa Chickering and Jeanne Porterfield collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the National Anthropological Film Collection may not be played.
Lisa Chickering and Jeanne Porterfield Collection, National Anthropological Film Collection, Smithsonian Institution