Papers and photograph collection of James and Stevey Bruce, anthropologists, photographers, and filmmakers, specifically of New Guinea native tribes. The collection contains mainly narratives (scripts) to films of his expeditions, plus many photographs and slides. Bruce made expeditions from 1961 to 1982 to New Guinea to study, photograph, and film tribes inhabiting many of the islands, including the John Frum Cult on Vanuatu Island, a cult based on a belief system around the Gods living in the USA, who are responsible for the "magical" appearance of manufactured items that cannot be fashioned from the jungle or sea; and other tribes inhabiting Malaita, Solomon Islands and tribes in Indonesia. Many of his photographs, taken principally by his wife Stevey Bruce, are of ceremonial dances and rituals and document the ceremonial dress of the native tribes as well as depicting village life.


James Stuart Bruce was born in Butte, Montana June 12, 1919. At the age of six he and his family moved to the island of Cyprus where his father was the managing director of Cyprus Mines Corporation. James Bruce lived in Cyprus from 1926 to 1938 and spent three years at school in Beirut, Lebanon. He then attended Pomona College and graduated with a B.A. in 1942. From 1942 to 1945, James Bruce served in the Army Corp of Engineers with duty in New Guinea and the Philippines. His service in New Guinea brought him in contact with native tribes and contributed to his interest in studying New Guinea tribes later on his life. After the war, from 1947 to 1954, James Bruce was self-employed as a ceramic manufacturer in Pasadena, California.

James Bruce had a continuing interest in Melanesian cultures. He traveled to various locations to film, photograph, and study the native populations of New Guinea. One group of natives he documented were members of the John Frum Cult, a culture based on a belief system around the "gods" living in the USA, who are responsible for the "magical" appearance of manufactured items that cannot be fashined from the jungle or seas. During World War II, generous American soldiers with their abundance of goods gave freely to the people and unwittingly helped solidify the beliefs of the cult. He also filmed and photographed tribes on the islands of Malaita and Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. James Bruce published multiple articles in EXPLORERS JOURNAL and PACIFIC MAGAZINE and authored, "BEYOND THE RANGES," published in 1991.

James was married to Stevey Bruce, who traveled with him on many expeditions. She helped with research, filming, and maintaining their expedition diaries.

Scope and Content

The James and Stevey Bruce papers, arranged in four series, contains scripts, photos and tapes. The scripts correspond with James' videotapes of his expeditions to New Guinea. The photographs are also of his expeditions to New Guinea. Of particular note within the collection are two scrapbooks of color photographs documenting James expeditions. The papers are arranged in four series: 1) MISCELLANEOUS, 2) FILM SCRIPTS AND VIDEOTAPES, 3) AUDIOCASSETTE TAPES, and 4) PHOTOGRAPHS.


This series contains news clippings, a vita and James' dissertation from UCLA titled "Cargo Cults of the South Seas with a Special Emphasis on the John Frum Cult and the Maasina Cult."


This series is arranged in two subseries: A) Scripts and B) Videotapes. The Scripts subseries is a compilation of scripts to the films of James' and Stevey's expeditions to New Guinea. They include scripts (narratives) of films that pertain to James' dissertation on Cargo Cults in the South Seas. The Videotapes subseries includes 3 videos of his travels in New Guinea, titled "The Valley Beyond," "The Island That Time Forgot," and "John Frum Cargo Cult Festival."


This series is arranged in two subseries: A) New Guinea Tapes and B) Miscellaneous. The New Guinea Tapes subseries records rituals of, ceremonies of, songs by and interviews with New Guinea natives. The Miscellaneous tapes are more recent conversations between Stevey Bruce and UCSD Melanesian Collection colleagues.


This series is arranged in three subseries: A) Prints, B) Slides and C) Scrapbooks. The Prints subseries portrays village life as well as natives in ceremonial dress. The Slides sub-series document James' expeditions to New Guinea from James expeditions from 1961 to 1982. The Scrapbook subseries contains two scrapbooks entitled New Guinea and New Guinea Patrol, which document the 1961 expedition to Dutch New Guinea, including Waina Suanda, Amgotro, Poenda, and Oebroeb. The photographs depict ceremonial dances, including a Fertility Dance and Dance of the Dead, as well as pictures of village life.


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1 1 News Clippings: Copies.
1 2 Thesis, 1983.
1 3 Vita, Lists of Publications, Unpublished Writings and Films, 1985.


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1 4 Scripts, An Account of a Voyage to New Guinea, Manus, New Ireland and New Britain, 1957.
1 5 The Cannibal Murderers of Malaita, 1979.
1 6 Cargo Cults of the South Seas, [1970s].
1 7 The Gourdmen of New Guinea, 1961.
1 8 The John Frum Cult [1970s].
1 9 John Frum-he came [1970s].
1 10 Lost in the Jimi River.
1 11 Land Divers of Pentecost, 1985.
1 12 Naghol. The Tower (Synopsis), 1983.
1 13 New Guinea Highlands, 1963.
1 14 New Guinea patrol, 1961.
1 15 Rebellion on Vanuatu, 1981.
1 16 The Solomon Islands, 1979.
1 17 The Valley Beyond, 1963.
1 18 A Walk in the Jimi Valley, 1979.
1 19 Whatever Happened to Mike? [re. Michael Rockefeller], 1975.


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1 20 "John Frum Cargo Cult Festival".
1 21 "The Island That Time Forgot".
2 1 "The Valley Beyond".


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New Guinea Tapes

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3 1 Singing by Girls at our house, Shellmoney Story, Bride Money Lionel Fagasi, 1979.
3 2 Sing Sing Lae, George Washington, Turnem Head.
3 3 New Guinea, Tuareg Music.
3 4 Dance of School in Wairokai, Story of Former Cannibal, Talk to Chief George Washington, Completo, 1979.
3 5 Mille Wall-Bouganville, Merle Wall, Leve (Carver) Munda, 1970 - 1979.
3 6 Interview with Reverend John Gina Munda, Solomon Islands, St. Joseph's Cathedral Kieta Bouganville, 1970 - 1979.
3 7 1st Story Luke Sosota, End John Gina Music, Tal of Battles and Maasina Rule by Sgt. Vouza, 1979.
3 8 Kava Talk, Tanna, Bungalow's Talk with Tanna, 1980.
3 9 Interview with Tuk, Tuk Interview Tanna, 1980.
3 10 Pentecost Ceremony, 1982.


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3 11 Tape #4, User Copy.
3 12 Tape 2, Stevey Bruce, 2000.
3 13 Stevey Bruce, Conversation with Stevey Bruce, Joel Robbins, Kathy Creely, 2000.


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4 1 Photographs of Artifacts.
4 2 Malaita, Solomon Islands.
4 3 New Guinea, 1981.
4 4 New Guinea (Dutch New Guinea/Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea).
4 5 Vanuatu-Pentecost.
4 6 Vanuatu-Tanna Island.
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4 7 Papua New Guinea-Amgotor and Waina, 1961.
4 8 Papua New Guinea, 1963.
4 9 Papua New Guinea, 1966 - 1975.
4 10 Solomon Islands, Especially Malaita, 1979.
4 11 Vanuatu-Pentecost (Island), 1982.
4 12 Vanuatu-Tanna, John Frum Cult Sulphur Bay, 1977 - 1981.


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5 1 FB-442-1 Scrapbooks: New Guinea Patrol, 1966 - 1968.
5 2 FB-442-2 Scrapbooks: New Guinea, 1961.

Finding aid generated: 2006-11-22