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Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection

Names:
Andrade-Watkins, Claire  Search this
Bambara, Toni Cade  Search this
Dash, Julie  Search this
Gerima, Haile  Search this
Greaves, William, 1953-2005  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

"Out at Work", documentary film press kit

Series Collector:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History  Search this
Series Donor:
Becker, John M.  Search this
Gay Officers Action League. GOAL  Search this
Heritage of Pride (HOP)  Search this
Rohrbaugh, Richard  Search this
Series Creator:
Hirsch, Leonard  Search this
Guest, Barbara  Search this
Barna, Joseph T.  Search this
Guest, Michael E.  Search this
Cruse, Howard, 1944-2019  Search this
Container:
Box 115, Folder 19
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Series Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.

Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.

Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Series Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Series Citation:
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection / Series 20: Pride at Work
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep85d9e7c61-488c-4245-86dd-fe0dbd24da61
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1146-ref1589

History in the Making, documentary film poster

Series Collector:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History  Search this
Series Donor:
Becker, John M.  Search this
Gay Officers Action League. GOAL  Search this
Heritage of Pride (HOP)  Search this
Rohrbaugh, Richard  Search this
Series Creator:
Hirsch, Leonard  Search this
Guest, Barbara  Search this
Barna, Joseph T.  Search this
Guest, Michael E.  Search this
Cruse, Howard, 1944-2019  Search this
Container:
Box 144, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
2015
Series Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.

Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.

Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Series Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Series Citation:
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection / Series 21: Sabatino, Michael and Voorheis, Robert
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8a2c21d09-08f3-4819-9f79-2f89628520cf
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1146-ref1757

March On!, autographed documentary film poster

Series Collector:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History  Search this
Series Donor:
Becker, John M.  Search this
Gay Officers Action League. GOAL  Search this
Heritage of Pride (HOP)  Search this
Rohrbaugh, Richard  Search this
Series Creator:
Hirsch, Leonard  Search this
Guest, Barbara  Search this
Barna, Joseph T.  Search this
Guest, Michael E.  Search this
Cruse, Howard, 1944-2019  Search this
Container:
Box 144, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
2014
Series Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.

Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.

Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Series Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Series Citation:
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection / Series 21: Sabatino, Michael and Voorheis, Robert
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b0df130d-0f88-4083-8092-47bfadfda937
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1146-ref1758

An Outrage at History Film Forum 2017

Creator:
National Museum of American History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2017-03-30T02:38:12.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
American History  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianAmHistory
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianAmHistory
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_0XOps06yjl0

Hancock-Pacific Galapagos Expedition: The Empress of the Galapagos, 1933-1935

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution Archives  Search this
Type:
Lectures
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2011-11-02T19:59:22.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Museum administration  Search this
See more by:
SIArchives
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
YouTube Channel:
SIArchives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_CijtNm-BrsE

The Past and Future of DC Chinatown (documentary film, 2018)

Creator:
Anacostia Community Museums Collections and Research  Search this
Type:
Interviews
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2019-05-07T16:54:51.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
See more by:
Anacostia_Community_Museums
Data Source:
Anacostia Community Museums Collections and Research
YouTube Channel:
Anacostia_Community_Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt__HIYU5TsUHU

Wu Man - "Kazakh Song" [Behind the Scenes Documentary]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2013-04-22T17:38:27.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_2FobeBHCa2Q

Music of Central Asia Vol. 3: Homayun Sakhi: The Art of the Afghan Rubâb [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2012-03-01T19:48:34.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_8JY9UogwA2A

Promoting Pluralism in Central Asia: The Aga Khan Music Initiative [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2010-03-11T16:17:33.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_FmavrEhQnRs

Music of Central Asia Vol. 9: In the Footsteps of Babur [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2010-03-11T16:14:09.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_OVLq1UMgrgU

Music of Central Asia Vol. 5: The Badakhshan Ensemble - Pamir Mountains [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2009-10-29T17:57:43.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_QNqslKmhWeY

Barbara Dane: On My Way [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2018-01-22T22:22:34.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_eYa9_j3bn5c

Music of Central Asia Vol. 1: Tengir-Too: Mountain Music of Kyrgyzstan [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2012-03-01T19:54:29.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_gQvOk0GMeHs

Music of Central Asia Vol. 6: Alim & Fargana Qasimov: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2009-10-29T17:55:48.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_hkPvgd-9yYY

Music of Central Asia Vol. 4: Bardic Divas: Women’s Voices in Central Asia [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2009-10-29T18:39:41.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_o4nPVHkvucg

Wu Man - "Star-Spangled Banner" [Live at Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2014-08-01T19:44:08.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_tnq7S5ITWrQ

Music of Central Asia Vol. 2 - Revitalizing Shashmaqâm: Court Music of Central Asia [Preview Video]

Creator:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2012-03-01T19:53:09.000Z
YouTube Category:
Music  Search this
Topic:
Cultural property  Search this
See more by:
smithsonianfolkways
Data Source:
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
YouTube Channel:
smithsonianfolkways
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_ya479PiCFYQ

INSIDE “MUD FRONTIER: ARCHITECTURE AT THE BORDERLANDS” | AN EVENING WITH THE FILMMAKERS

Creator:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum  Search this
Type:
Conversations and talks
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2021-11-18T14:05:50.000Z
YouTube Category:
Entertainment  Search this
Topic:
Design  Search this
See more by:
cooperhewitt
Data Source:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
YouTube Channel:
cooperhewitt
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_WOG-_-G8rwE

The Story of Gitanjali - A documentary film by Reba Som

Creator:
Smithsonian Education  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2011-07-28T23:54:20.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Education  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianEducation
Data Source:
Smithsonian Education
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianEducation
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_noUs3ovtQZg

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