Collections: Media

One of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology’s great strengths, objects in the media of still photography, film, and sound recording, as well as paintings, prints, and drawings, are invaluable as these documentary forms supply the critical information that allows scholars to create knowledge from the Native-made artifacts.

Still photographs

The Museum's collection of still photographs consists of both original prints and negatives. The original prints include those of Edward Curtis, Timothy O’Sullivan, John Hillers, Carleton Watkins, and Felice Beato, as well as some unique copies, found nowhere else. The Museum's negatives comprise the largest and most comprehensive collection of ethnographic photographs of California Indians (ca. 3,500). A sample of the collection can be reviewed at the Museum's Calisphere archive.

Sound recordings

The Museum has the largest sound collection in an American anthropology museum. One of the largest and oldest ethnographic sound collections in the country, it is the largest and most comprehensive sound collection for California Indian song and language, and the third largest ethnographic wax-cylinder collection in America (2,713 items, produced 1901–38). Visit the California Language Archive for a catalog of the Museum's California Indian sound collection. The Museum also has important holdings from Africa and Asia.


Probably the largest collection of research footage on North American Indians in the country. Most of the collection was formed by Samuel A. Barrett (first UC Berkeley anthropology doctorate in anthropology, 1908), on his NSF-funded American Indian Film Project (1960–65), yielding 362,569 feet of film from many tribes in the American West. The collection also includes important early (1920s) films from Bali and Siberia.



Hearst Museum Collections Portal

The Hearst Museum's new Collections Portal is now online with information for every object in our collections and over 323,000 photos.

Click on image to the left or enter a keyword below to start your search.