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Roberta Cantow papers

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00559

Scope and Contents

The Roberta Cantow Papers are comprised of biographical information, personal writings, artwork, photographs, awards, and psychic readings (audio tapes), photographs, correspondence, email, publicity, and other documents pertaining to the production and distribution of Cantow's films, as well as Cantow's thoughts on issues and circumstances covered in the films.

Audiovisual materials include original prints and copies in various formats (16mm film, video tape, DVDs, soundtrack, audio recordings, digitized and born-digital recordings) of Cantow's films and performance pieces. The films are documentary and include Clotheslines, "an homage to women and their daily work,...a lively and humorous look at the relationship that women have with the chore of cleaning the family clothes.... In this documentary, layers of emotions come to the surface as the commonality of women's work is exposed." Other films include Dr. Clown, about Patch Adams, M.D.; The Book of Laughs, about the shared memories of two sisters; If This Ain't Heaven, the reminiscences of a fifty-year-old African American man; and Illuminada, a visual impression of Mexico. There are smaller amounts of materials pertaining to other films and film possibilities that Cantow pursued, e.g. a script for TThe Revolt of the Mother, based on the novel by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. There are also recorded interviews by Cantow of herbalist, Susan Weed, and Goddess scholar, Karen Tate.

Dates of Materials

  • 1965-2020

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections, except for Cantow's diaries, including those contained in Box 1 of Accession 2008-S-0087, which are closed to research until August 15, 2028.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Roberta Cantow has retained copyright during her lifetime in her films donated to Smith College. After her death, copyright in these works will transfer to Smith College.

Roberta Cantow has placed the following additional restriction on copying of her films donated to Smith College: "film materials may be made available for research but not copied for any use other than research."

To the extent that she owns copyright, Roberta Cantow has assigned the copyright in her non-film works to Smith College. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators.

For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by Roberta Cantow, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Filmmaker Roberta Cantow was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Janet Leah Wohfield and Lawrence Albert Cantow, M.D. She earned an A.B. from the University of Michigan in 1969, and an M.F.A. from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1972. From 1969 to 1970, she studied at the Etienne Decroux School of Mime in Paris, France. She is the founder of Buffalo Rose Productions (1982), Original Digital (1997), and One Of A Kind Video Portraits (1993-2003).

She has produced, directed and edited numerous independent films and videos, including The Book of Laughs (1988), If This Ain't Heaven (1984), Clotheslines (1981), Moon Festival (1994), Mosaics (1994), and Doctor Clown (1992).

Cantow often presents and discusses her work in public forums, and has served as an educator among multi-ethnic populations in community college, adult education, and youth-oriented museum and artist-in-residence programs. She has been the recipient of numerous grants, and has garnered many honors and awards for her work.

Extent

14.75 linear feet (18 boxes)

2.30 Gigabytes (electronic mail, video, audio and one archived website)

Overview

Roberta Cantow is a filmmaker. This collection of her papers includes biographical information, personal writings, artwork, photographs, awards, and psychic readings (audio tapes), photographs, correspondence, email, publicity, and other documents pertaining to the production and distribution of Cantow's films, as well as Cantow's thoughts on issues and circumstances covered in the films, including: the documentary Clotheslines, Dr. Clown (about Patch Adams, M.D.) The Book of Laughs, If This Ain't Heaven, and Illuminada.

Arrangement

This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time. Note that in most cases, container numbers start over at 1 with each new accession.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request the creation of and access to digital copies. Some, but not all, of the audiovisual records have already had digital surrogates made.

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Roberta Cantow began donating her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2006.

Related Materials

The internegatives of both Clotheslines and If This Ain't Heaven are being stored in a vault in Princeton, New Jersey and under the custody of the Special Collections Department of the New York Public Library. (The Donnell Library originally paid for the preservation of these films).

Processing Information

Digital content transferred to the Sophia Smith Collection was copied to networked storage for preservation and access; and file lists were created.

Creator

Source

Title
Finding aid to Roberta Cantow papers
Status
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Author
Ellice Yasner Amanna
Date
2014; 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:22-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-05-14: Recent digital accessions added
  • 2020-11-10: Added Accession 2020-S-0015

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063