Asch studied photography at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. While serving in the United States Army in Japan from 1951-55 he spent his off-duty hours photographing rice production and household activities in remote Japanese villages. After his military service, he enrolled in Columbia University graduating in 1959 with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology.After graduation, he went to work at the Peabody Museum at Harvard as an assistant editor to John Marshall on the Kung Bushmen film project. In 1964, he received a Masters Degree in Anthropology from Boston University where he studied in the African Studies Progam and read Anthropology with T.O. Beidelman at Harvard. In 1968, Asch and Marshall founded Documentary Educational Resources, a film distribution company. Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon approached Asch in 1968 to film among the Yanomammmi people of Venezuela. This collaboration led to a major project resulting in over thirty films.
Electronic finding aid available via the website of the National Anthropological Archives
1. Correspondence (1953-1994); 2. College/Graduate School (1955-1965); 3. Teaching Materials (1964-1993) 4. Film Projects (1964-1991); 5. Articles and Reviews (1972-1994); 6. Alpha-Subject (1955-1989); 7. Conferences, Film Festivals & Film Organizations (1963-1993); 8. Grants (1962-1993); 9. Other People's Work (1952-1995); 10. Personal/Family (1951-1994); 11. Photographs (1947-1991); 12. Sound Recordings (Bulk 1960s-1970s); 13. Note Slips, Rolodexes, and Business Cards
Timothy Asch was an anthropologist and ethnographic film maker who devoted his professional life to using film as a recording and teaching medium. His papers cover the period from 1966 until his premature death in 1994 and reflect his active career in the field. A large portion of the files relates to his work among the Yanomami people of Venezuela and to his concern with bias in film making.
Timothy Asch Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland