The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection contains full film and video projects (outtake material), film production elements and edited films and videos, audio tapes, still photographs, negatives, transparencies, slides, published and unpublished writing by John Marshall and others, study guides for edited films, Nyae Nyae Development Foundation and Advocacy files, maps, and production files that include letters, shot logs, translations, transcriptions, editing logs, treatments, and proposals spanning from 1950-2000. This material comprises Marshall's long-term documentary record of the Ju/'hoansi of the Nyae Nyae region of the Kalahari Desert in northeastern Namibia. A great deal of the film and video footage focuses on one particular extended family, that of Toma Tsamko, whose ancestral home is at /Gautcha, an area with a large salt pan and a permanent waterhole. The life stories of some family members are captured in the footage; appearing as children in the 1950's, middle-aged parents in the 1980's, and pensioners in the final years of visual documentation. The Marshall Collection also documents other Ju/'hoansi living in Nyae Nyae and elsewhere, their relationships with neighboring ethnic groups, and national politics that affected Ju/'hoansi. Marshall also documented the local political body (the Nyae Nyae Farmers' Cooperative, or NNFC), the foundation he started (the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia, or NNDFN), and the ways in which both groups worked with and were affected by international development organizations and foreign aid during the 1990's.
Scope and Contents:
The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection contains full film and
video projects (outtake material), film production elements and edited films and videos,
audio tapes, still photographs, negatives, transparencies, slides, published and
unpublished writing by John Marshall and others, study guides for edited films, Nyae
Nyae Development Foundation and Advocacy files, maps, and production files that
include letters, shot logs, translations, transcriptions, editing logs, treatments, and
proposals spanning from 1950-2000.
This material comprises Marshall's long-term documentary record of the Ju/'hoansi of
the Nyae Nyae region of the Kalahari Desert in northeastern Namibia. A great deal of the
film and video footage focuses on one particular extended family, that of Toma Tsamko,
whose ancestral home is at /Gautcha, an area with a large salt pan and a permanent
waterhole. The life stories of some family members are captured in the footage;
appearing as children in the 1950's, middle-aged parents in the 1980's, and pensioners in
the final years of visual documentation. Beginning in 1978, Marshall often conducted
lengthy and in depth interviews with many family members, in which they reflect on past,
present, and future, and often comment on specific film footage from earlier years which
was shown to them during the interviews. The collection is not limited to the /Gautcha
family, however; it also documents other Ju/'hoansi living in Nyae Nyae and elsewhere,
their relationships with neighboring ethnic groups, and national politics that affected
Ju/'hoansi. Marshall also documented the local political body (the Nyae Nyae Farmers'
Cooperative, or NNFC), the foundation he started (the Nyae Nyae Development
Foundation of Namibia, or NNDFN), and the ways in which both groups worked with
and were affected by international development organizations and foreign aid during the
1990's. The collection also documents changes to the landscape and wildlife of the Nyae
This collection is arranged in 13 series: (1) Unedited Film and Video Projects, 1950-1978, 1981-2003; (2) Published Films and Videos, 1952-2002; (3) Unpublished Films and Videos, 1959-1962, circa 1965; (4) Audio, 1950s, 1978-1990; (5) Field Notes, Shot Logs, Translations, 1951-2000; (6) Production Files, 1952-2004; (7) Correspondence, 1968-2003 [bulk 1993-2000]; (8) Nyae Nyae Development Foundation & Advocacy Files, 1975-2003 [bulk 1984-2003]; (9) Published and Unpublished Writing, 1957-1958, 1980-1999, 2007; (10) Study Guides, 1974, 1982; (11) Writings by Others & Press, 1952-1953, 1965-2005; (12) Photographs, 1930s, 1946-2003; (13) Maps, 1872, 1879, 1914, 1933-1989.
Biographical / Historical:
John Marshall, filmmaker and activist, was born on November 12, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and on his family's farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Marshall first picked up a camera in 1950, at the age of 18, during the first of several expeditions to the Kalahari organized by his father, Laurence Marshall, the founding president of the Raytheon Corporation. The whole Marshall family - including John's mother, Lorna, and sister, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas - became engaged in a multi-disciplinary study of the Ju/'hoansi. Marshall's father assigned him the task of making a documentary film record of Ju/'hoan life and culture. Between 1950 and 1958, he shot over 300,000 feet of 16mm film (157 hours).
Marshall formed a close bond with many of his Ju/'hoan subjects, particularly with Toma "Stumpy" Tsamko, leader of the /Gautcha band. Amongst Ju/'hoansi, Marshall was known as Toma Xhosi, Toma "Longface". Probably because of this close relationship, he was forced to leave South West Africa in 1958 after his visa expired, and was not allowed back for twenty years.
During the 1960's and 1970's, Marshall became well-established as a cinema vérité filmmaker. After leaving the Film Study Center at Harvard, which he had co-directed with Robert Gardner, he worked briefly with Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker, and later collaborated with Fredrick Wiseman on Titicut Follies (1967). He forged friendships with leading documentary and ethnographic filmmakers, including Timothy Asch, Ricky Leacock, and Jean Rouch.
Throughout these years, Marshall continued to work with his extensive footage of Ju/'hoansi. He completed 15 short films, as well as the award-winning Bitter Melons. In 1968, Marshall partnered with Tim Asch to found Documentary Educational Resources (DER), to distribute and support the creation of ethnographic and educational film.
In 1978 Marshall was allowed to return to Nyae Nyae to shoot N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman. Finding his Ju/'hoan friends beset by illness, poverty, and growing social ills, John turned his attentions to development and advocacy work. Virtually abandoning his filmmaking career, Marshall started a foundation to assist Ju/'hoansi and spent most of the 1980's helping them establish water access, subsistence farming, and a local government. He began using film as an advocacy tool, and released several urgent, issuefocused videos to raise awareness of the Ju/'hoan struggle for self-determination.
Marshall continued his documentary record of Ju/'hoansi, directing his final shoot in 2000. A Kalahari Family (2002), his epic six-hour series, tells the story of the Ju/'hoansi from 1950-2000 and charts Marshall 's evolution from filmmaker to activist. He made his final visit to Nyae Nyae in 2004, and continued his advocacy work right up to his final days. John Marshall died due to complications from lung cancer on April 22, 2005.
John Marshall Chronology
1932 -- Born in Boston, Massachusetts
1950-1958 -- Marshall Family expeditions to study the Ju/'hoansi of Nyae Nyae
1957 -- Awarded B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University The Hunters released
1958-1960 -- Associate Director (with Robert Gardner) of the Film Study Center, Peabody Museum, Harvard University
1960 -- Awarded G.S.A.S. in Anthropology from Yale University
1960-1963 -- Director, Bushmen Film Unit, Harvard University
1962 -- Sha//ge Curing Ceremony (early version of A Curing Ceremony), A Group of Women and Joking Relationship screened at Flaherty Seminar
1964-1965 -- Cameraman for NBC covering civil war in Cyprus
1966 -- Awarded M.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University
1967 -- Cameraman and Co-Director of Fredrick Wiseman's Titicut Follies
1968 -- Founded Documentary Educational Resources (DER) with Timothy Asch (first known as CDA, Center for Documentary Anthropology)
1968-1969 -- Cameraman and Director of film shoots for the Pittsburgh Police series, produced through the Center for Violence Studies at Brandeis University
1970-1974 -- Edited and released numerous short films, from both Ju/'hoan (!Kung) and Pittsburgh Police series
1972 -- Collaborated with Nicholas England (musicologist) on a film project documenting a family of drummers in Ghana (this film was never completed)
1972-1973 -- Travel to Botswana to film National Geographic's Bushmen of the Kalahari, produced by Wolper Productions
1974 -- If It Fits, documentary on failing shoe industry in Haverhill, MA, released
1976 -- Director and cameraman of film shoots for Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife
1978 -- Film shoot in Nyae Nyae for N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman
1980 -- N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman released and broadcast on PBS as partof the Odyssey series
1980-1982 -- Conducted genealogical survey in Nyae Nyae with Claire Ritchie
1982 -- Founded the Ju/wa Cattle Fund (later known as the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia)
1985 -- Pull Ourselves Up or Die Out, Marshall's first "field report" edited on video, released
1989 -- Returns to Boston after Namibian independence
1991 -- To Hold Our Ground, another "field report" is aired on Namibian television shortly before a national Land Rights Conference
1993 -- The Cinema of John Marshall published
1995 -- Awarded Honorary M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design
2000 -- Final video shoot in Nyae Nyae
2002 -- A Kalahari Family premieres at the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York City; released for general distribution in 2003
2004 -- Makes final visit to Nyae Nyae; presents proposal for water point protections
2005 -- Dies in Boston, Massachusetts
Ju/'hoansi are the speakers of the Ju/'hoan language. Various cultural descriptors used
over the years include !Kung which is a language group containing three dialect groups,
one of which is the Ju/'hoansi; San, which is now regarded by the Ju/'hoansi to have
negative connotations; and Bushman, which ironically (given the derogatory history of
this term) is now preferred by the Ju/'hoansi as a term of dignity. (Orthography
information provided by Dr. Polly Wiessner, University of Utah anthropologist and longtime
field worker among and researcher of the Ju/'hoansi.)
The orthography of the Ju/'hoan language has changed many times, though an official
orthography was agreed upon and accepted by the Namibian government in 1991. The
finding aid, cataloging records, and shot logs for the Marshall collection at Human Studies Film Archives
continue to use the orthography used by the Marshall family beginning in 1950. These
spellings are usually anglicized versions of the official orthography. For example, the
name ≠Oma was usually rendered by the Marshalls as Toma; the place name /Aotcha as
/Gautcha or Gautscha.
The majority of the footage was shot in a region of Namibia (formerly South West
Africa) known as Nyae Nyae. In the 1960's, a portion of the Nyae Nyae area was
officially established as a homeland for Ju/'hoansi by the South West African
administration. This area, once called Eastern Bushmanland, is now known as Eastern
Otjozondjupa, however it is still referred to as Nyae Nyae by Ju/'hoansi and others. The
Nyae Nyae Conservancy, which encompasses a large portion of Eastern Otjozondjupa,
was established in 1996.
JU/'HOAN BUSHMAN FILM SERIES
1952 -- First Film [also known as !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari] (by Lorna Marshall)
1957 -- The Hunters
1959 -- A Curing Ceremony
1961 -- A Group Of Women
1962 -- A Joking Relationship
1966 -- !Kung Bushmen Hunting Equipment (directed by Lorna Marshall)
1969 -- N/um Tchai: The Ceremonial Dance of the !Kung Bushmen
1969 -- An Argument About A Marriage
1970 -- The Lion Game
1970 -- The Melon Tossing Game
1971 -- Bitter Melons
1972 -- Debe's Tantrum
1972 -- Men Bathing
1972 -- Playing With Scorpions
1972 -- A Rite of Passage
1972 -- The Wasp Nest
1974 -- Baobab Play
1974 -- Children Throw Toy Assegais
1974 -- The Meat Fight
1974 -- Tug-Of-War
1980 -- N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman
1985 -- Pull Ourselves Up Or Die Out
1990 -- To Hold Our Ground: A Field Report
1991 -- Peabody Museum !Kung San Exhibit Video
2002 -- A Kalahari Family
In addition to Marshall's many published films on the Ju/'hoansi, he was also involved in a variety of other film projects. He shot and co-directed Titicut Follies, a film by Fredrick Wiseman. Working in association with the Lemburg Center for Violence Studies at Brandeis University, he shot and directed a series of short films about a police squad in Pittsburgh, PA, known as the Pittsburgh Police series. He also shot and directed If It Fits, a film about the failing shoe industry in Haverhill, MA. Marshall was also the subject of two television programs: Bushmen of the Kalahari, a National Geographic special which aired in the United States, and a Japanese program called Forty Years in the Kalahari, part of the television series, Our Wonderful World. All of these, as well as Marshall's Ju/'hoan films, are included in this filmography.
PITTSBURGH POLICE SERIES
1970 -- Inside/Outside Station 9
1971 -- Three Domestics
1971 -- Vagrant Woman
1972 -- 901/904
1972 -- Investigation of a Hit and Run
1973 -- After the Game
1973 -- The 4th, 5th, & Exclusionary Rule
1973 -- A Forty Dollar Misunderstanding
1973 -- Henry Is Drunk
1973 -- The Informant
1973 -- A Legal Discussion of a Hit and Run
1973 -- Manifold Controversy
1973 -- Nothing Hurt But My Pride
1973 -- Two Brothers
1973 -- $21 or 21 Days
1973 -- Wrong Kid
1973 -- You Wasn't Loitering
1967 -- Titicut Follies (Co-Director, Cinematographer; film by Fredrick Wiseman)
1972 -- Ghana Drumming (uncompleted; collaboration with Nicholas England)
1974 -- Bushmen of the Kalahari (by Wolper Productions for National Geographic)
1975 -- Vermont Kids (series of short films; released in 2007)
1976 -- Festival of American Folklife (uncompleted; shot for Smithsonian Institution)
1978 -- If It Fits
1988 -- Our Wonderful World: Forty Years in the Kalahari (by Nippon A-V Productions)
The Human Studies Film Archives holds several related collections, including:
• The Nicholas England Collection, which consists of audio recordings from 1951-1961. This collection contains both originals and duplicates of audio tapes recorded during the Marshall Expeditions. (2005.9)
• The Journal of Robert Gesteland, kept during the Marshall !Kung Expedition VI, 1957-58. (2007.17)
• Master copies of the full film record of Bushmen of the Kalahari (1974), a television
program featuring John Marshall's 1973 visit to the /Gwi San of Botswana, produced by Wolper Productions for National Geographic. (2008.12)
• Reference copies of the full video record of Our Wonderful World: Forty Years in the
Desert, Nippon A-V's 1988 Japanese television program about John Marshall and the Ju/Wa Bushman Development Foundation. (2009.2.1)
• Master copies of the videotape "library" kept by John Marshall for reference and stock footage purposes. Compiled from various sources, the videos include news programs, documentaries, and raw footage of Ju/'hoansi and other San peoples from the 1920's --1990's, as well as interviews with John Marshall and his mother, Lorna
• Additional audio recordings, including interviews with Ju/'hoansi made by John Marshall and others. (2009.3)
• Full film record of [Ghana Drumming, 1972], an uncompleted project undertaken by John Marshall and Nicholas England, which documents a family of musicians. (2008.11)
The Papers of Timothy Asch, held at the National Anthropological Archives, contain
information on Asch's work with John Marshall at Harvard University from 1959-1963,
their collaboration in founding DER, and details on the use of Marshall's Ju/'hoan
footage in the development of MACOS (Man, A Course of Study).
There are also several closely related collections held at the Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. These collections relate to the 1950's
Marshall Expeditions and include: Expeditionary Notebooks and Journals of Lorna and
Laurence Marshall; Journal of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas; the Marshall Family
Photograph Collection; and the Records of the South West Africa Expeditions, 1950-
1959. The Harvard Film Archive, Harvard University, holds film prints of several of
Marshall's published films on the Ju/'hoansi, including The Hunters.
The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection was received over several years of accessioning from different parties.
The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection is open for research. Please contact the Archives for availabilty of access copies of audio visual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Materials relating to Series 6 Production Files are restricted and not available for research until 2048, 2063, 2072. Kinship diagrams in Series 13 are restricted due to privacy concerns. Various copyrights and restrictions on commercial use apply to the reproduction or publication of film, video, audio, photographs, and maps.
An interview of Regina Vater conducted 2004 February 23-25, by Cary Cordova, for the Archives of American Art, in her home in Austin, Texas.
Vater speaks of her childhood in Copacabana, Ipanema, south of Rio de Janeiro; her father's career as a physician; her Basque, Portuguese, and Jewish heritage; her early education including early experiences with Greek philosophy; her parents' reaction to her desire to be an artist; her great-grandfather's translation of Virgil and Homer into Portuguese; her study abroad in France in 1972; her move to New York in the mid-1970s; her motivations for various works of art, including the series Gentle Solitude, Three Chinese Monkeys, Luxo Lixo, Electronic Nature, The Knots, Tina America, and "O Que e Arte?"; her Guggenheim fellowship in 1981; the 1976 Whitney Biennial; her marriage to video installation artist Bill Lundberg; her move to Austin, Tex.; her work with the Franklin Furnace Gallery and Flue magazine; her involvement with "cinema verité"; making films with Ruth Escobar; her travels in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lima, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia; her perception of the emotional differences between Latinos and Americans; her love of Brazilian culture; her own classification of her work and potential reasons for the lack of scholarship on her work; her activities as a curator including the 1984 show "Latin American Visual Thinking," at the Art Awareness Gallery in New York, N.Y.; difficulties with the Brazilian government in attempting to bring her film Green into that country; her love of poetry, especially concrete poetry; and the spirituality of her work. Vater also recalls Helio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Frank Schaeffer, Antonio Diaz, Carlos Vergara, Rubens Gerschman, Mario Schemberg, Lucy Lippard, Augustos de Campos, John Cage, Joseph Beuys, Quentin Fiore, Tomasso Trinino, Bill Lundberg [the artist's husband], Leo Castelli, Dore Ashton, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Sophie Calle, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Ruth Escobar, Antonio Pitanga, Bobby Wilson, Sylvia Orozco, Bill Viola, Ana Mendieta, Martha Wilson, Catalina Parra, Liliana Porter, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Regina Vater (1943-) is a Brazilian born multimedia artist from Austin, Texas. Cary Cordova (1970-) is an art historian from Austin, Texas.
Originally recorded on 4 sound discs and 1 compact disc. Duration is 5 hr., 10 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
This interview is part of the series "Recuerdos Orales: Interviews of the Latino Art Community in Texas," supported by Federal funds for Latino programming, administered by the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives.
The digital preservation of this interview received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
(Oversized material from Box 70, Folders 15, 19-21, 23-26; Box 71, Folders 1-3)
Box 199, Folder 9
Use of original records requires an appointment.
Leo Castelli Gallery records, circa 1880-2000, bulk 1957-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the partial digitization of this collection was provided by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.