New Resource Gives Faculty, Students Access to Hundreds of Documentaries Online in Streaming Video | Alexander Street

New Resource Gives Faculty, Students Access to Hundreds of Documentaries Online in Streaming Video

April 20, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, VA, April 20, 2010—Electronic publisher Alexander Street today announced the launch of a new online collection of streaming videos designed to meet the needs of instructors and researchers in anthropology, documentary film, and across the social sciences curriculum. Faculty advisors have described the project as “a visual encyclopedia of human behavior and culture.”

Available by subscription or one-time purchase to libraries worldwide, Ethnographic Video Online currently includes hundreds of the classic and contemporary documentaries most frequently used in anthropology, ethnography, and other social science programs together with related full-text materials and teaching tools, including previously inaccessible field notes. Soon, the collection will also include hundreds of hours of previously unpublished video footage from working ethnographers in the field. Over the next two years, Ethnographic Video Online will grow to include more than 1,000 complete video titles totaling more than 750 hours.

Documentary classics in the collection include works by world-famous names such as Edward Curtis, Robert Flaherty, John Marshall, Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, Jean Rouch, Robert Gardner, Timothy Asch, and Napoleon Chagnon. Contemporary films in the collection are from leading video producers including Documentary Educational Resources and feature virtually every geographic region and culture.

Says Alexander Street anthropology editor, Will Whalen, “Visual anthropologists have been talking about the potential value of a cross-searchable visual archive like this since the 1970’s. This is the first time it’s been done in a way that makes the films widely accessible online and useful for both specialists and students.”

As with the other collections in Alexander Street’s series of Critical Video Editions, Ethnographic Video Online features synchronized, scrolling transcripts that run alongside each video, allowing the user to click and jump forward to any point in the transcript. Every word of every film is transcribed and cross-searchable, and the collection is Semantically Indexed, making it possible to quickly identify and access relevant footage by theme, cultural group, geographic region, date of filming, type of behavior, filmmaker, language, and much more. Clip-making tools and playlist functionality make it easy to organize content for course use and for researchers to cite specific moments of footage. Faculty can stream films in the classroom in “full screen” view or assign them for remote-access viewing. Research and teaching will benefit from cross-cultural comparisons—of gender roles or kinship ceremonies, for example. The collection can also be used to analyze the impact of classic works on the style and techniques of modern documentaries. Says Whalen, who notes the collection’s popularity among film schools, “Ethnographic films were among the earliest documentaries made, so the history of ethnographic film is also the history of the documentary itself.”

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About Alexander Street Press
Alexander Street Press is an electronic publisher of award-winning online collections for education and research in the humanities, social sciences, performing arts, and music. Since its beginnings in 2000, Alexander Street has developed a reputation for uniquely powerful search capabilities powered by Alexander Street’s Semantic Indexing™ and for offering content not available anywhere else. Alexander Street collections are available to library and educational institutions via annual subscription or outright purchase.

Teaching faculty and library staff interested in trial access or a price quote for Ethnographic Video Online should email sales [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com ( sales [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com)

Reviewers, media contacts, libraries, and university faculty may request extended access to Alexander Street online collections by emailing Meg Keller at mkeller [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com ( mkeller [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com) or phoning 703-212-8520 x116 for a username and password.

To learn more, visit the Alexander Street Web site at
Contact Details
Meg Keller, Director of Marketing
Alexander Street Press
3212 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-212-8520 x 116 / 202-641-7819 (mobile)
mkeller [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com (mkeller [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com)

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