Blackwood, Beatrice (1889-1975)*

Beatrice Blackwood working with a still camera, British Columbia, Canada, 1925 [Courtesy Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford].
Beatrice Blackwood was one of the few women to shoot ethnographic film footage prior to the Second World War.

She was an academic member of staff of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, from 1935 to 1959, and during this time, made a number of expeditions to collect materials for the museum.

It was in 1936-37 that she made her principal contribution to ethnographic film history when she took an amateur 16mm camera with her on an expedition to Morobe Province in Highland New Guinea to make a collection for the museum of the artefacts produced by the Anga people.

The principal motivation for taking the camera was to shoot footage showing how the Anga made and used stone tools, though she also shot a number of sequences on other aspects of their life. Although limited in scope and duration, and not intended to work as a free-standing film, this footage, which can be viewed here, remains of considerable ethnographic and historical interest.

More general details about Beatrice Blackwood’s career are available here

© 2018 Paul Henley