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Australian aborigines

Identifier: Film Collection no. 43

Scope and Contents

This program closely examines Australian aborigines, first through a pantomime by the American Mime Theatre acting out racial migration from Asia, then through discussion and film. Harry L. Shapiro, AMNH anthropologist, discusses the physical anthropology of aborigines and points to their culture as one of the most primitive on earth. He also shows aboriginal weapons and artifacts. The uncredited film footage of central Australian aborigines is narrated by Shapiro. The people are seen in various daily activities, such as gathering berries, tubers, ants, and grubs for food, then making a fire and cooking emus and other birds, and kangaroo. The men harvest and shred wild tobacco leaves and mix them with wood to create a type of chewing tobacco. Children play together in a water hole. A whole sequence in the film depicts communication by drawing symbols in the sand. Rituals, dances, sacred family objects and the people moving through their arid land, all contributing to create a full portrait of the Australian aboriginal people, are also seen in the film.


  • 1953


Language of Materials



1 Film Reel (30 minutes) : sound, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (30 minutes)) : sound, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy

Other Finding Aids

Finding aids: script.


Original format: 16mm kinescope.


Originally aired Sept. 27, 1953 as part of the CBS/AMNH Adventure television series.



Charles Collingwood, host; Perry Wolff, director and producer; Leon Rice, editorial supervisor; Jac Venza, production design; Rosemarie Herman, supervisor of film; American Mime Theatre, performers.

Australian aborigines, 1953
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420