Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
32 documents - page 1 of 2

Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection

Names:
Andrade-Watkins, Claire  Search this
Bambara, Toni Cade  Search this
Dash, Julie  Search this
Gerima, Haile  Search this
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989  Search this
Jafa, Arthur  Search this
Jones, Robert Earl, 1904-2006  Search this
Massiah, Louis  Search this
Micheaux, Oscar, 1884-1951  Search this
Moses, Ethel  Search this
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976  Search this
Sanchez, Sonia, 1934- (poet, reader)  Search this
Snead, James A., 1953-1989  Search this
Spence, Louise, 1945-  Search this
Tucker, Lorenzo  Search this
Donor:
Bowser, Pearl, 1931-  Search this
Extent:
approximately 100 Motion picture films
213 Sound cassettes (7 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion picture films
Sound cassettes
Sound cassette
Oral histories (document genres)
16mm motion picture film
Vhs (videotape format)
Place:
England
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Roanoke (Va.)
Memphis (Tenn.)
Date:
bulk 1920-2001
Biographical / Historical:
Pearl Bowser is a filmmaker, producer, author, lecturer, and highly acclaimed scholar of African American film who is recognized as an authority on the works of Oscar Micheaux, a noted writer, director, and producer of race films from 1919 to 1948.

Born Pearl Johnson on June 25, 1931, in Sugar Hill, Harlem, New York, she was named after her mother (also Pearl Johnson), a domestic worker who had been raised in a Catholic nunnery. On occasional Saturdays, the younger Pearl would accompany her mother to work in apartments in lower Manhattan, where she would assist her by folding handkerchiefs for a small allowance. After moving to a lower part of Harlem when she was about four years old, she met Harlem entrepreneur "Bumpy" Johnson, for whom she and other children in the neighborhood did odd jobs such as counting coins or attending to his ice-cream stand. Johnson, who would sometimes give the children joy rides in his Cadillac, occasionally allowed Pearl and the other children to borrow books from his extensive library, provided that they read them and submitted to a quiz.

As a child, Bowser had several racist encounters. For example, one of her white kindergarten teachers at her elementary school wore gloves in the classroom as to not touch Black pupils. She was also occasionally teased for having a gap between her teeth but felt insulated from sustained bullying because she had several older brothers who sometimes protected her. On a separate occasion, when she was about nine years old, her mother sent her on a trip from New York to the South to visit relatives. Although her mother had purchased tickets for her to be in a Pullman car, when she changed trains in Washington, DC., she was forced to ride in the car behind the engine, which left her covered in soot.

An avid reader, Pearl excelled in elementary and high school and received a scholarship to attend Brooklyn College, where she majored in biology. She supplemented her income by recording the numbers in one of Bumpy Johnson's shops. Disappointed with the quality of the education she was receiving, Bowser withdrew from Brooklyn College, eventually landing a job at CBS where she worked on a team that analyzed Nielsen ratings.

In 1955, Pearl married fellow New Yorker LeRoy Bowser. By the mid-1960s, although Pearl and LeRoy Bowser had separate interests, they both were working simultaneously in the civil rights movement. While LeRoy was active in Brooklyn CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and went to the South in the summer to teach for what was the beginning of HeadStart, Pearl, along with other production activists, took to the streets documenting African American culture and issues—working to bring these films to schools. Additionally, Bowser wanted to write a cookbook to earn funds for Brooklyn's CORE organization. She was approached by David Davis, the editor of Tuesday Magazine. Tuesday had distribution in the Herald Tribune across the country as a Sunday supplement. As the urban-world magazine exploded in Black communities, "Joan" Bowser's two-page pictorials on Southern cooking with a set of recipes became very popular in the five years she wrote them. Bowser retained copyrights to the articles, and easily completed her cookbook a short time later.

Bowser's colleague at ABC, Charles Hobson, found a used book written by Peter Noble about Black films and Oscar Micheaux. The volume was slim and contained what little information contained in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) files. Hobson and his colleagues wanted to write a book about the topic, and they assigned Bowser to begin the research. As part of the project, Bowser went to California to interview actors who may have been in early Black films or may have worked with Micheaux. What she learned began her intensive scholarship into Micheaux and his fellow filmmakers.

In 1971, she organized her first film festival, the Black Film History Series. In 1979, she organized the nation's first American women's film festival in New York City. She also presented a major retrospective, Independent Black American Cinema 1920-1980, which toured the country during 1981 and 1982. She also directed the Journey Across Three Continents film and lecture series, which toured the country from 1983-1985. Bowser also served as president of the prestigious Flaherty Film Seminar in 1987. In 1989, she, alongside Grant Munro, programmed the 35th Flaherty Film Seminar, which featured films such as Finzan, Zajota and the Boogie Spirit, Daughters of the Dust, and many more. She has also been a judge at the world-renown Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESCPACO) in Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta).

In the 1980s Bowser was awarded an independent artists grant by the Ford Foundation to travel west and collect oral histories from individuals in Oscar Micheaux's orbit, loosely following the route he would have travelled decades earlier. Stopping in cities such as Roanoke, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; and Jackson, Mississippi, she collected dozens of oral histories from actors, actresses etc. that knew Oscar Micheaux. Through this research she became an eminent figure in the Black independent film industry. Working as a programmer, she travelled around the United States and the world showing films by domestic and Black filmmakers within the Diaspora.

Despite her wealth of experience working as a programmer, it wasn't until the 1990s that Bowser made her directorial debut with the documentary film Midnight Ramble. Funded by American Experience, the film looks at African Americans and Hollywood movies from 1910 through the 1950s. In 2000, she, along with Louise Spence, co-authored Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences, a book about the pioneering filmmaker. Additionally, she is founder and director of Chamba Educational Film Services, a film distribution company that specialized in distributing films by African American filmmakers. In the early 1980s, she renamed her company/collection as African Diaspora Images, a collection of historical and contemporary films documenting Black film history. She subsequently joined Third World Newsreel, where she was director of their theater department.

In 2012, Pearl Bowser donated her extensive collection of books, sound cassettes, films, film memorabilia, and papers to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Sources:

1940 United States Federal Census; New York, New York, New York, population schedule, p. 61B, house number 1486, family 195, Pearl Bowser; Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012 accessed: 10 Sept 2022); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm: m-t0627-02665

Bowser, Pearl. Pearl Bowser Oral History. Interview by Tuliza Fleming and Jennifer Lyon, July 21, 2011.
Provenance:
Acquired as a donation from Pearl Bowser in 2012.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Access to collection materials requires an appointment.
Occupation:
Filmmakers  Search this
Actors -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Documentary films  Search this
Film festivals  Search this
African American actors  Search this
African American actresses  Search this
African diaspora  Search this
Race films  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American women authors  Search this
Meetings  Search this
Conferences  Search this
Lectures and lecturing  Search this
Amateur films  Search this
Motion picture soundtracks  Search this
Oral history  Search this
Radio broadcasts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound cassette
Oral histories (document genres)
16mm motion picture film
VHS (videotape format)
Citation:
Pearl Bowser Collection, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Identifier:
NMAAHC.A2012.79.AV
See more items in:
Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3209e9c6d-3045-4a0a-941e-6519385b18d5
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-a2012-79-av

Race Movies: The Popular Art of the Black Renaissance

Creator:
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Foster, William D., 1884-  Search this
Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938  Search this
Micheaux, Oscar, 1884-1951  Search this
Smith, Bessie, 1894-1937  Search this
Collection Creator:
Smithsonian Institution. Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
1 Sound recording (open reel, 1/2 inch)
1 Sound recording (open reel, 1/4 inch)
2 Video recordings (VHS)
1 Video recording (MiniDV)
Type:
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Video recordings
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
United States
Date:
1985
Scope and Contents:
Short film in which narrator provided the history of African American contributions to the film industry and portrayal of African Americans in film from the silent film era through the Harlem Renaissance. Includes images and clips from The Birth of a Nation, The Birth of a Race, By Right of Birth, The Homesteader, and The Scar of Shame. Includes work and contributions of Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, James Weldon Johnson, Oscar Micheaux, and Bill Foster, also known as William D. Foster, to the film industry.
Short film. Part of The Renaissance: Black Arts of the Twenties Audiovisual Records. AV003253-1 and AV003253-2: music only, no sound and/or very low volume sound between songs. AV003253-3: narraton only. AV003253-4: repetitious sound. AV003253-5: narration and music. Dated 19850906. AV003452: narration only, undated. AV002130 and AV002141: image and sound (narration and music) including movie clips, undated. AV005152: image and sound, original Dub from 3/4" [U-Matic] tape - remastered version, dated 19850905.
Biographical / Historical:
The exhibition - The Renaissance: Black Arts of the Twenties - showcased the evolution and achievements of the Renaissance, which was the explosion of literary, visual, performance, and cinematic creativity generated by black artists between the end of World War I and the early days of the Great Depression. Represented is the creativity of Marian Anderson, Richard Barthe, Countee Cullen, Aaron Douglas, Duke Ellington, Meta Warrick Fuller, Roland Hayes, Zora Neale Hurston, Malvin Gray Johnson, Alain Locke, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Paul Robeson, George Schuyler, and Wallace Thurman, among others. The exhibition, held at the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, ran from September 1985 - December 1986.
Local Numbers:
ACMA AV003253-2

ACMA AV003253-3

ACMA AV003253-4

ACMA AV003253-5

ACMA AV003452

ACMA AV002130

ACMA AV005152

ACMA AV002141
General:
Title transcribed from contents of recording.
Series Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at acmarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Harlem Renaissance  Search this
African Americans in the performing arts  Search this
Motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Musicians  Search this
Race films  Search this
Museum exhibits  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Video recordings
Citation:
Race Movies: The Popular Art of the Black Renaissance, Exhibition Records AV03-024, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.03-024, Item ACMA AV003253-1
See more items in:
The Renaissance: Black arts of the Twenties exhibition records
The Renaissance: Black arts of the Twenties exhibition records / Series ACMA AV03-024: The Renaissance: Black arts of the Twenties audiovisual records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa71b1b718f-fa04-4b60-8420-4d7bb50a977b
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-03-024-ref505

Interview with Anthony Anderson

Creator:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
1 Video recording (MiniDV)
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Interviews
Place:
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
United States
Date:
2011
Scope and Contents:
Filmmaker Anthony Anderson lived in Anacostia in southeast Washington, D.C. until he entered high school when he moved to Montgomery County, Maryland. Anderson started creating and writing stories at a young age, and involved himself in the performing arts, including stage plays in high school. After several unsuccessful attempts to secure a role on 'The Wire,' Anderson was inspired by Spike Lee interview in which Lee stated you have to create your chance. Anderson explains this inspiration lead him to revisit his previously written scripts and start making films. He talks about his first film 'The Ties that Binds,' and his web series 'Anacostia.' Anderson explains his inspiration comes from people in Washington, D.C. and what success means to him. He talks about his creative process, where his ideas come from, trusting people he works with, and his biggest struggles creating the web series. Anderson provides advice to aspiring Anacostians.
Interview. Dated 20110210.
Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Civic leaders  Search this
Communities  Search this
Genre/Form:
Video recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Interview with Anthony Anderson, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.01-007.16, Item ACMA AV005206
See more items in:
Community and Creativity Project Records
Community and Creativity Project Records / Series 2: Oral History Interviews
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa7db5449e6-7121-464b-991f-8646c11bdb34
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-01-007-16-ref101

Early race filmmaking in America edited by Barbara Tepa Lupack

Ditor:
Lupack, Barbara Tepa  Search this
Physical description:
xii, 250 pages illustrations 33 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
2019
Topic:
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
African Americans in the motion picture industry  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Motion pictures--History  Search this
Racism in motion pictures  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1153567

Through a lens darkly : America's emerging black film makers

Author:
Peavy, Charles D  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1971
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
E161 ,J86
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_915174

Why we make movies : Black filmmakers talk about the magic of cinema / George Alexander

Author:
Alexander, George 1963-  Search this
Physical description:
xiv, 528 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2003
Topic:
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
Motion pictures--Production and direction  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_717190

Charles Burnett spellbinds viewers with his personal vision

Author:
Young, Al 1939-  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
Burnett, Charles (Charles S. F.)  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1990
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
E185.5 .A512
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_492393

The aesthetics of Nommo in the films of Spike Lee

Author:
Stephens, Ronald Jemal  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
Lee, Spike Criticism and interpretation  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1933
Topic:
African American motion pictures producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
BH221.U5 A47 1993X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_493921

Spike Lee : fast forward

Author:
Fitzgerald, Sharon  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
Lee, Spike  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1995
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
E185.5 .A512
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_502104

Black film, white money / Jesse Algeron Rhines

Author:
Rhines, Jesse Algeron  Search this
Physical description:
x, 195 p. : ill. ; 23 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1996
C1996
Topic:
African Americans in the motion picture industry--History  Search this
African Americans in motion pictures--History  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_497992

Daughters of the dust : the making of an African American woman's film / by Julie Dash with Toni Cade Bambara and Bell Hooks

Author:
Dash, Julie  Search this
Bambara, Toni Cade  Search this
hooks, bell 1952-  Search this
Subject:
Dash, Julie  Search this
Physical description:
173 p. photographs (some col.) : 26 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1992
C1991
Topic:
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
PN1997.D313343D3 1992X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_433619

Black American cinema / edited by Manthia Diawara

Author:
Diawara, Manthia 1953-  Search this
Physical description:
x, 324 p. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1993
Topic:
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Experimental films--History and criticism  Search this
Call number:
PN1995.9.N4 B45 1993X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_448112

Oscar Micheaux, the great and only : the life of America's first Black filmmaker / Patrick McGilligan

Title:
Great and only Oscar Micheaux
Author:
McGilligan, Patrick  Search this
Subject:
Micheaux, Oscar 1884-1951  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 402 p., [16] p. of plates : ill ; 24 cm
Type:
Biography
Place:
United States
Date:
2007
C2007
Topic:
Motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_840897

Spike Lee : that's my story and I'm sticking to it / as told to Kaleem Aftab

Author:
Aftab, Kaleem  Search this
Lee, Spike  Search this
Subject:
Lee, Spike  Search this
Physical description:
viii, 324 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
Type:
Biography
Place:
United States
Date:
2005
Topic:
Motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_775465

Film, culture, and the Black filmmaker : a study of functional relationships and parallel developments / Madubuko Diakité

Author:
Diakité, Madubuko  Search this
Physical description:
184 p., [3] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1980
Topic:
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Culture in motion pictures  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1004042

Les résonances de l'Afrique dans les films afro-américains = The echoes of Africa in African American films / Cham M'Bye

Title:
Echoes of Africa in African American films
Author:
Cham, Mbye B  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Type:
Articles
Place:
Africa
Date:
1998
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
In motion pictures  Search this
Call number:
PN1993.5.A35 E27X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_689728

Filles de poussière

Author:
Barlet, Olivier  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
Dash, Julie Daughters of the dust  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1998
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
NX2 .A375
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_669976

Geechee girl get ready for the big time

Author:
Branch, Shelly  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
Dash, Julie  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1990
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
E185.5 .E45X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_547216

Representing : hip hop culture and the production of Black cinema / S. Craig Watkins

Author:
Watkins, S. Craig (Samuel Craig)  Search this
Physical description:
xiv, 314 p. ; 24 p
Type:
Books
Date:
1998
Topic:
African Americans in motion pictures  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Hip-hop  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_542019

Not without my daughters

Author:
Dash, Julie  Search this
Baker, Houston A  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries African Art Index Project DSI  Search this
Subject:
Dash, Julie Interviews  Search this
Type:
Articles
Date:
1992
Topic:
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
Call number:
DT433.2 .T772
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_547235

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By