What are audiovisual materials?

Audiovisual (AV) materials present information through the senses, rather than though merely printed words. Sound recordings, video recordings, oral histories, film, documentaries, broadcasts, presentations, television, and radio are all audiovisual materials. 

Resources at Harvard

Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection 

This 60,000-slide collection spans four decades of Welch's travels documenting masterpieces of Islamic and Indian art from across the world. Welch was a celebrated lecturer and collector who was curator of Islamic art at Harvard’s Fogg Museum from 1956-2008.

Archive of World Music Collection at Harvard

The Archive of World Music at Harvard's Loeb Music Library collects archival field recordings of musics worldwide, as well as commercial audiovisual recordings and streaming resources of ethnomusicological interest. The Archive has developed important collections from Asia and the Middle East. It holds diverse archival material, such as wide-ranging Chinese songs acquired by Harvard Professor Emeritus Rulan Pian; extensive field recordings made by Martha Forsyth in 1980s of traditional Bulgarian songs; field recordings of Tvisöngur (male polyphony in Iceland); and !Kung field recordings. Numerous recordings of Indonesian music have also been acquired, primarily on commercial sound cassettes.

South Asian Audiovisual Collections

South Asian Literary Recordings Project

Launched in April 2000, to record the voices of South Asian authors for the Library of Congress' Archive of Recorded World Literature, the project has captured the readings of prominent South Asian poets, novelists, and playwrights. The authors recorded so far represent more than fifteen of the languages of India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.


Kanopy is an on-demand streaming video service for educational institutions that works directly with filmmakers and film distribution companies to offer thousands of award-winning documentaries, training films and theatrical releases across diverse subjects and disciplines. Collections include titles from the DEFA Film Library, ArtMattan Films, HBO, Frameline, Ruscico, Pragda, BBC, Flicker Alley, National Film Board of Canada, First Run Features, Cinema Libre Studio, New Day Films, and the Criterion Collection/Janus Films. This database provides access to more than 26,000 films and documentaries from a variety of independent filmmakers and distributors, including the BBC, PBS and the Criterion Collection.

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Volume 5: South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent

This volume, on the music and dance of South Asia, is the first of its kind to cover such a broad range of material—from ancient traditions to modern pop genres, from village folk music to classical art forms, and from the Pashtun music of Afghanistan to the Sinhala music of Sri Lanka. The South Asia volume represents a wonderfully rich source of information on music making and music theory, musicians and dancers, performers and audiences, musical transmission, mass media, and many other topics.
Information included was gathered through firsthand field research with the peoples, cultures, and musics written about.

Music Online. Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries

An international collection of all types of recorded sound. The tracks include folk, popular, and classical world music, non-musical recordings such as speeches and oral histories, and a variety of natural, animal, and human sounds. Global Sound recordings have been collected from archives such as Smithsonian Folkways, the International Library of African Music, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology. The collection can be searched with keywords and by geographic area, cultural group, instrument, and language.

Ethnographic Video Online 

Ethnographic Video Online is a comprehensive online resource for the study of human culture, behavior and society around the world. The collections contain over 1,300 hours of streaming video, including ethnographic films, documentaries, select feature films, and previously unpublished fieldwork. Intended to be a visual encyclopedia of human behavior and culture, online in streaming video. Includes footage from every continent and hundreds of unique cultures. Thematic areas include: language and culture, kinesthetics, body language, food and foraging, cooking, economic systems, social stratification and status, caste systems and slavery, male and female roles, kinship and families, political organization, conflict and conflict resolution, religion and magic, music and the arts, culture and personality, and sex, gender, and family roles.

World History in Video: English-language documentaries

Collection of more than 1,750 documentaries, delivered through streaming video, surveying aspects of human history from the earliest civilizations to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Access points for research and discovery include browsing by historical eras, time periods, events, places, political and cultural groups, people (including historians, speakers, filmmakers, and historical figures), themes, and topics, country of origin, production date, producer, and other features; and options for cross-searching all video transcripts, liner notes, bibliographic data (including producer, series, title, country of origin, publication date, narrator, production staff, and more), and many other indexed fields, including person discussed, year discussed, and all browsing options.