New York Zoological Society. Department of Education. Audio-Visual Office records
Scope and Content
This collection consists mainly of the records of the New York Zoological Society (NYZS)'s Department of Education under Curator Herbert J. Knobloch (1947-1971). It also includes additional materials from other departments, divisions, and general staff involved in the provision of NYZS audio-visual media services from the 1940s to the 1980s. This includes materials from the Department of Publications while headed by William Bridges (Editor and Curator of Publications, 1935-1966). In some cases the files appear to be of mixed provenance. It appears that the records produced by the Department of Education under Curator Herbert J. Knobloch, as well as those materials produced by other departments, divisions and staff with an audio-visual services function, were inherited by the predecessors to the Media Services Department in the Division of Public Affairs (such as the Department of Publications), which as of the early 21st century provides NYZS's media audio-visual services. The collection largely documents the production of the Society's annual meetings, and in particular the production of the motion picture programs shown at these events.
The bulk of the collection consists of draft and final versions of scripts produced for films previewed during the Society's annual meetings. Shot notes and annotations are present on many of the scripts and provide complementary evidence of production activity. In some cases, there is a small amount of additional associated production material, such as shot lists, planning and production notes, correspondence, and memoranda. The materials document various aspects of the Society's activities, including zoological and wildlife research, zoo education work, and conservation efforts conducted by animal curatorial departments at the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium. Additionally, the films document NYZS research institutes and field stations such as the Department of Tropical Research (1923-1965) and the Institute for Research in Animal Behavior (1966-1972). Other affiliated organizations, such as the Conservation Foundation (1948-1968) and the Jackson Hole Biological Research Station (1947-1976), are also represented here. The films’ subjects include animal programs in mammalogy, ornithology, and herpetology; Society research expeditions; studies in animal behaviour and health; and annual or seasonal news from park, aquarium, and research station facilities. Other zoological educational films were geared towards inspiring and educating the next generation of young zoologists, naturalists, and conservationists.
The records also include a small amount of material documenting the Society's film collection up to the early 1940s: an index, report, and proposal resulting from a collection-wide survey conducted by the outside consultant firm the Film Associates Inc. The index contains item-level information on specific films including content descriptions, production notes, producer, footage, production dates, condition, and the location where the films were housed. The index also contains later annotations by NYZS staff. The proposal includes recommendations to the Society for future directions, including the production, distribution, and use and care of the motion picture film collection.
Finally, the collection includes general production and administrative records created during the 1940s through the 1980s relating to the Society's audio-visual services, film and media collection, and annual meetings. The bulk of these records date from the 1970s and 1980s and contain materials produced by Education Department supervisory audio-visual services staff. These records include correspondence files and event production records. Correspondence files include correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, proposals, scripts, work orders, requisition forms, notes, and printed materials that relate to the administration of NYZS audio-visual services. Event production records relate primarily to the Society's annual meetings and include correspondence, schedules, film and overall event scripts, speeches, cue sheets, shot lists, memoranda, and notes. There are also files for other film and media projects; these include film scripts, correspondence, memoranda, notes, and a contract. These film and media project files relate to a number of productions from the 1940s through the 1980s, including additional annual meeting films, the television production "Animal World,” and the World of the Darkness exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.
Senior staff represented in this collection include William Bridges (Editor and Curator of Publications, 1935-1966), Sam Dunton (Staff Photographer, circa 1940s-1974), and Herbert Knobloch (Curator of Education, 1947-1971), who all played key roles in the production and presentation of annual meeting film productions. Education Department Audio-Visual Services Office supervisory staff Fred Biolchini and Robert Haber, who were active in the 1970s and 1980s, are also represented in the materials.
- 1941 - 1981
- New York Zoological Society (Organization)
Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible usage restrictions. In particular, series 1 and 2 contain items in poor physical condition (e.g. slightly brittle or crumbling pages or documents on degraded thermofax paper). Extra care and handling needs to be exercised with the originals and with duplicates where duplicates are the only surviving copy.
Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible usage restrictions.
During the mid-to-late 20th century, the New York Zoological Society (NYZS)'s audio-visual service functions were not centralized, but were instead performed by a variety of different departments, divisions, and Society staff members.
In the 1940s the Society's Department of Education had the most prominent role in managing the audio-visual services, but starting in the 1960s other departments, including Publications, Photography, and Public Relations became increasingly involved. During the first few decades of the 20th century, NYZS produced a significant collection of media resources including motion picture films and audio recordings. Motion picture films were valuable aids that allowed the Society to deliver its educational mission to Society members and the public. Films were produced by various curatorial departments at the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, as well as by NYZS's research institutes and field stations, including the Department of Tropical Research. Other organizations affiliated with the Society, including the Conservation Foundation and the Jackson Hole Biological Research Station, produced film series of their own. Together these films represented the various aspects of the Society's activities including zoological and wildlife research, zoo education, and field conservation. By the 1940s, the Society included films it had produced in the program of its annual meetings, where they were previewed for members before finding audiences elsewhere.
The Department of Education was initially established as the department of Zoo Education in 1929 by Bronx Zoo Director Dr. William Blair. [For a more thorough history of the Society's Education Department, see the finding aid for Collection 2100, the main collection for the Education Department.] By the mid-1940s, the Department’s provision of audio-visual services included a visual aids service program which facilitated the distribution of audio-visual collection materials, such as slides and film resources, to internal and external patrons. Media collections, including film materials, were distributed and used for purposes such as illustrating lectures by NYZS staff and showcases at the Society's annual meetings (as well as at meetings of other professional groups, including the American Society for Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science). NYZS audio-visual media collections were also provided for facilitating zoo education in New York City classrooms, and were exhibited at other zoos across the country. The Department of Education continued to provide storage and other services for NYZS media collections—including management of its film library—through the 1980s. Additionally, the Education Department's audio-visual services in the 1960s to 1980s included event production support for the Society's annual events and media production support for its films and animal exhibits at the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium. Concurrently, the Society’s evolving Publications Department—renamed 'Publications and Photography' during the 1960s and 'Publications and Public Relations' in the 1970s—increasingly became responsible for providing audio-visual services. Over the years that shift continued, and as of the early 21st century the vast majority of the Society's media audio-visual services resides with the Media Production Department in the Division of Public Affairs.
3.2 Linear Feet (8 Hollinger boxes)
Language of Materials
In the mid-to-late 20th century, audio-visual service functions at the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) were not centralized, but were instead performed by a variety of different departments, divisions, and individual staff members. NYZS's Department of Education played a significant role in the delivery of audio-visual services in the Society from the 1940s through the 1980s. By the 1940s the Department of Education's provision of audio-visual services included a visual aids service program which facilitated of the distribution of audio-visual collection materials for internal and external purposes. During the 1960s through the 1980s, the Department's audio-visual services grew to include event and media production.
The collection mainly includes records of the Department of Education pertaining to media production, notably film scripts for motion picture films the Society produced to show at its annual meetings. The collection also includes a small amount of materials documenting an early comprehensive survey of the Society's film collection, as well as general production and administrative records that relate to its audio-visual services, film and media collection, and annual meetings.
This collection is arranged into three series:
Series 1: Media services film and media catalog records, 1941 – 1947
Series 2: Annual Meeting film scripts, 1947-1979
Series 3: Media services correspondence and planning files, 1946-1981
(3A) Annual events, 1971-1981
(3B) Correspondence, 1978-1981
(3C) Film and media projects, 1946-1975
Internal transfers, 1982 (Acc. 1982.013, 1982.016)
Collection processed and finding aid created by Emma Curtis, NHPRC Project Archivist, September 2016.
- Bridges, William, 1901-
- Dunton, Sam C.
- Knobloch, Herbert J.
- Motion picture film collections
- New York Aquarium
- New York Zoological Park
- New York Zoological Society
- New York Zoological Society
- New York Zoological Society. Education Department
- Wildlife conservation
- Wildlife research
- Zoos -- Educational aspects
- Zoos in motion pictures
- Guide to the Records of the Education Department, Audio-Visual Office records, 1941-1981
- Emma Curtis
- September 2016
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Collection processing and finding aid creation for this collection was made possible through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission Access to Historical Records grant program.