Smithsonian accepts donation from Carter Wilson

Time was, scholars could look forward to donating their original research materials to the Smithsonian Institution and knowing they would be archived forever.

But times have changed, and the Smithsonian no longer accepts all donated materials, instead scrutinizing items during a highly selective review process.

Which is why Carter Wilson, professor emeritus of community studies, was particularly pleased to have his 1966 documentary film Appeals to Santiago, and all his original film, audio recordings, still photographs, and production records, accepted by the Smithsonian's Human Studies Film Archive.

Written and coproduced by Wilson with the late Duane Metzger, a professor of social sciences at UC Irvine, the award-winning 30-minute film documents an eight-day Maya Indian festival from the participants' perspectives.

Robert Laughlin, a Smithsonian anthropologist who specializes in Mayan ethnology, called the film "an extraordinary documentary filmed in the Tzeltal town of Tenejapa, Chiapas, at a time when the community did not allow photography. For those of us who have witnessed the changes over the past 40 years, the film is very moving."

The nation's only anthropological archives, the Human Studies Film Archive supports the collection and preservation of field notes, photos, sound recordings, and moving images that document the world's cultures and the history of anthropology.

More than 500 anthropologists, native peoples, and other researchers visit the archives each year. Thousands more receive research support through e-mail. A half million visitors view exhibits and begin their research online.

Appeals to Santiago was in distribution for 40 years. "Having it in the archives means educational institutions can get copies pretty much at cost for the foreseeable future," said Wilson, who retired from UCSC in 2002 after 30 years as a professor of community studies.