C.V. Starr East Asian Library
 

Wan-go H.C. Weng film collection, circa 1944-1980, circa 1944-1980

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID 11018656 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Weng, Wango H. C.
Title Wan-go H.C. Weng film collection, circa 1944-1980, circa 1944-1980
Physical Description 50 Linear Feet (50 record cartons/clam-shell boxes); 50 Linear Feet (50 record cartons/clam-shell boxes)
Language(s) English , Chinese .
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material from the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at least 5 business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections reading room.

This collection has no restrictions. However, due to the collection's physical characteristics and technical requirements, all materials can only be made accessible after reformatting or digitization.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Collection is arranged in 7 series.

Description

Scope and Contents

The Wan-go H.C. Weng film collection (翁萬戈影視收藏) consists of motion picture film materials from the collection of Weng Wango (1918-), the noted art historian, art collector, and filmmaker. The collection consists of approximately 739 individual film elements, almost all 16mm, dating from circa 1944 to 1980. In addition to the 16mm film, there are three 35mm films and 28 1/4-inch open-reel audiotapes. The materials in the collection primarily relate to films produced by Weng, including series of films on Chinese history, Chinese cities and towns, and Chinese art. The collection also includes materials were collected by Weng but were, presumably, owned by him or his production company. Included in the collection are a wide variety of different types of film elements, including original film, master picture and sound elements, projection prints, work prints, trims, and outs. While some of Weng's films have been made available through various avenues, including the educational film distribution circuit, DVDs, and online, this is almost certainly the most complete collection of Weng's work, containing master and original materials for many of his films.

  • Series 1: "Land of China", 1946-1951

    The films are the earliest of Weng's works included in the collection. Each of the films profiles a different Chinese city or town – specifically the four major cities listed in the film titles, and Changshu, the titular "Town by the Yangtze," Weng's hometown. Each film runs approximately 10 minutes long and features color footage shot silently and English-language narration. Research shows that the films were shot in China around 1946 and 1947 and released as educational films in the US beginning in 1951. Elements included in the collection are master picture elements for all five titles (single-roll reversal for the first four and A and B rolls for the last), master sound elements for all five titles, two release prints of Yangtze, and additional original footage from Peking, Hangchow, and Nanking. These films are almost certainly the most interesting in the collection from a historical perspective, as they were all shot in China in the interim between the end of World War II and the coming to power of the Communist regime. Filmed in vivid Technicolor, they depict street scenes, artistic and architectural highlights, and people at work, among other subjects. Titles include in this series: Hangchow, China's Garden City; Nanking, the Southern Capital; Peking, Marco Polo's Wonder; Tientsin, Gateway to North China; A Town by the Yangtze.

  • Series 2: Films sponsored by Li Sumin, 1949-1979

    In this series, the films on traditional Chinese arts and crafts were sponsored by Li Sumin (李叔明, 1900-1973), a Chinese banker, industrialist, and publisher, in the early 1950s. Each film runs approximately 15-20 minutes long and features color footage shot silently and English-language narration. They were released as educational films for the U.S. market. The films are composed entirely of shots of Chinese art and artifacts from the collections of US museums. The collection includes master picture and sound elements (picture and optical track negatives) for all four films, prints of all four films, and additional original reversal footage from Chinese Sculpture. Titles include in this series: Chinese Sculpture Through the Ages; Chinese Ceramics Through the Ages; Chinese Painting Through the Ages; Chinese Bronzes of Ancient Times; The Story of Chinese Art.

  • Series 3: "Art of China" and "Crafts of China", 1947-1991

    The films in this series depict various Chinese art forms through demonstrations by skilled artisans (including Weng himself in the painting episodes), as well as shots of art objects similar to those in the Li Sumin films. The films were filmed in the early 1950s. Each film runs approximately 10 minutes long and features color footage shot silently and English-language narration. The collection contains master picture and sound elements for five of the seven listed films (excepting Folk Dances and Dressmaking), prints for all seven films, and additional sound elements and original footage for many of the films. Titles include in this series: Chinese Shadow Play; Chinese Jade Carving; Two Chinese Dances / Chinese Folk Dances; Painting the Chinese Landscape; Painting the Chinese Figure; Chinese Dressmaking; Chinese Firecrackers.

  • Series 4: "Chinese History", 1963-1980

    The series is also known as the "China: The Enduring Heritage" series. This 13-part series on Chinese history and the affiliated film Buddhism in China were produced by Weng under the auspices of the China Institute in America, an organization for which Weng later served as president for several years in the 1980s. The series was filmed between 1972 and 1974, and was release in 1977. They were initially screened at museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and the St. Louis Art Museum, then distributed as educational films by the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center on film and later, VHS. As with many of Weng's films, the footage consists largely of Chinese art and artifacts filmed in museums. The museum footage is supplemented by other documentary footage licensed from a variety of sources, including the BBC Film Library, the 1968 film Two Faces of China, directed by Magnum photographer René Burri, and Requiem for a Faith: Tibetan Buddhism, directed by Elda Hartley. The films run approximately 20 minutes each and feature color footage shot silently with English-language narration. Titles include in this series: Episode 1: The Beginnings; Episode 2: The Making of a Civilization; Episode 3: Hundreds of Schools to One; Episode 4: The First Empires; Episode 5: The Great Cultural Mix; Episode 6: The Golden Age; Episode 7: The Heavenly Khan; Episode 8: The Age of Maturity; Episode 9: Under the Mongols; Episode 10: The Restoration; Episode 11: The Manchu Rule; Episode 12: Coming of the West; Episode 13: The Enduring Heritage; Buddhism in China.

  • Series 5: Selected Other Films, Produced/Directed by Weng Wango, 1971-1980

    The films in this series are produced or directed by Weng Wango, dating from 1945 to 1979. Some of the major titles include in this series: Chinese Kitchen (unknown); East in the West (1945); Chinese Brushwork (1971); Chinese Art: Of Heaven, Earth, and Man (1979). A Christmas Story (episode of "The Big Picture") (c. 1961) is an episode of the U.S. Army-produced television show featuring soldiers celebrating Christmas with their families. The Expo '70 Films (1970) are three short films ("Ceramics," "Silk," "Printing") produced for Expo '70, held in Osaka, Japan. Of the various elements in the collection, it is unclear which, if any, represent the most definitive versions of the films. It is also unclear whether the films are meant to have sound – they may have been played silently at the Expo with some sort of live accompaniment. The Buddhist Service at the Cathedral of the Pines (1971) is a filmed record of a service at the Cathedral of the Pines in New Hampshire, the collection contains master picture and sound elements for this film, as well as prints, and other original footage. Also include are films produced by Weng, but were undated.

  • Series 6: Selected Other Films, Collected by Weng Wango, circa 1944-1967

    The films in this series were collected by Weng Wango. Despite that these films seem to have had no creative input from Weng, future research could uncover additional information. The films include a number of U.S government and United Nations films with Chinese-language soundtracks, suggesting that Weng may have been involved in translating, re-recording, or distributing these versions of the films. Films include are: Why We Fight, Episode 7: The Battle of China, Chinese Version (U.S. Government, 1944); Defence of Peace, Chinese version (United Nations, 1946); Maps We Live By, Chinese Version (United Nations, 1948); Green Gold, Chinese version (United Nations, 1949); The Chinese Peasant Goes to Market (John Gutmann, 1949); Operation Deep Freeze (U.S. Navy, c. 1957); The Abduction of the Emperor of Japan (Daniel Stampler, Bradley Smith, 1966); A Child's Garden of Verse (Wil Berg, 1966); Exploring the World of Chocolate (1967); Living Legend films (Armand Denis, date unknown): The Giant (elephant) and The King (lion); Turbine Was a Lady (Westinghouse, date unknown); Footage from Rene Burri and Hartley films.

  • Series 7: Combined, Miscellaneous, or Unidentified, 1949-1975, undated

    This series consists of combined, miscellaneous, unidentified films. Some unknown materials contain dates while others contain title but without dates. Future digitization and research could uncover additional information on the films.

Using the Collection

C. V. Starr East Asian Library

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material from the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at least 5 business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections reading room.

This collection has no restrictions. However, due to the collection's physical characteristics and technical requirements, all materials can only be made accessible after reformatting or digitization.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The C.V. Starr East Asian Library maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Wan-go H.C. Weng film collection; Box and Folder; C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Wan-go H. C. Weng Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Link to acquisition publicity page.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, C. V. Starr East Asian Library

Processing Information

Preservation report completed by Jonah Volk in 2016. Inventory list created by Wei Zhang, 2016; revised by Jonah Volk, 2017-2019. Two empty reels were deaccessioned and discarded. Finding aid created by Yingwen Huang, from preservation report and revised inventory, in September 2019. Collection is part of the ongoing AMI Year 1 digitization initiative, 2019-2020.

15 videos from the collection have been reformatted into DVD and they are available via CLIO.

Some of the items in the collection has been digitized and made available through the Columbia Digital Library Collection. Link to list of digitized items page.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Acetate film Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Art -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Documentary films Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Language and culture -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Wan-go H.C. Weng (Wade-Giles: Weng Wan-go, Weng Wango; Pinyin: Weng Wange; Chinese: 翁万戈, 翁萬戈; also known as: Weng, Hsing Ching Wan-go; Weng, Hsing Ching; Weng Xingqing; 翁兴庆;, 翁興慶) was born in 1918, Shanghai, China. He is the fifth-generation descendant of Weng Tonghe (翁同龢), who was a Chinese scholar in the Qing dynasty. Weng Wango attended Shanghai Jiaotong University (上海交通大学) and studied engineering. In 1938, he began studying at Purdue University and received his master degree in engineering. He later also attended University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied art. In 1980s, he became the President of the China institute (华美协进社). He is a known art historian, collector, and film maker.