The purpose of the Huston
Smith Archive is to preserve and make available to the public Huston
Smith’s pioneering NET television series from the 1950s and later
materials featuring Huston Smith in interviews, lectures, and workshops.
much of the last half of the 20th Century, Huston Smith was
the leading scholar of the world’s enduring religions. His
groundbreaking 1955 TV Series, The Religions of Man
introduced American audiences to Eastern Religions and was nationally
broadcast on National Educational Television, NET, which was the
precursor to PBS. That series led to the publication of his book, The
Religions of Man – since retitled The World’s Religions
– which has sold over 3 million copies and was used as a textbook in
leading universities and colleges. His influence on the American
spiritual landscape cannot be overstated.
the TV series, Search for America, Huston Smith interviews
legendary mid-century icons in a wide range of interests on subjects
from Race Relations to Economics and World Politics. Huston interviewed
Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kenneth Galbraith and Paul Samuelson, Dr.
Margaret Mead, Mark Van Doren and William Ernest Hocking, Dr. Erich
Fromm, Reinhold Niebuhr, William Ernest Hocking, and Paul Tillich.
Films was started in 1971 by founder Elda E. Hartley. Elda and
Irving Hartley made newsreels and travel films from the 1930s through
the 1960s. Some of the images that now illustrate American history were
shot by Irving Hartley, including the explosion of the Hindenburg
zeppelin in 1937. He and Elda also produced a series of Pan Am
travelogues, a prototype for travel shows on television today. Huston
Smith narrated three shows for Hartley Films on Hinduism, Tibetan
Buddhism and Islam. Hartley released a lecture given by Huston Smith
titled, The Way Things Are.
in the future will feature an archive of films made by Gary Rhine,
who worked with Huston for decades, traveling the world with him and
filming A Seat at the Table.
a third Huston Smith NET series, Science
and Human Responsibility, is waiting for funding.
We’d like to thank the
following organizations and people who helped bring these influential
films to the public, after nearly being forgotten for 50 years: KETC
St. Louis, Amy Shaw, Cathy Peterson; Washington
University in St. Louis, Tyler Bequette, Sonya Rooney;
WNET, Jenn Bertani; the Library of Congress; Bill
Moyers, Gary Rhine, Phil Cousineau, Hartley Films,
Dana Sawyer, Kendra Smith, Gael Smith, and Kim
Smith. And a special thanks to Lisa
Mechele, who had a critical role to preserving and making these
films available for public viewing.
Dana Sawyer, Huston Smith Biographer
In 1955, a small
miracle occurred in St. Louis when an affable and enthusiastic
young professor from Washington University offered a landmark series of
talks on the World's Religions at KETC television, and broadcast
nationally on National Educational Television - NET. Huston Smith,
whom the Christian Science Monitor would later call "Religion's
Rock Star," opened the minds of Americans, using public television
to reveal exactly why members of the various religions found their
faith traditions compelling. Even now, more than sixty years
later, Smith's descriptions of the various faiths are entirely relevant
and compelling - a refreshing tonic for a troubled world.
And now these films are once again available!