James Stuart and Stevey Bruce Papers, 1957 - 1985 (MSS 673)

Restrictions: Original media formats are restricted. Viewing/listening copies may be available for researchers.

Extent: 2 Linear feet (2 archives boxes and 2 oversize folders)

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 Corps 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 in 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.

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) AUDIOCASSETTES, and 4) PHOTOGRAPHS.

Container List


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) MISCELLANEOUS: 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."

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Vita, Lists of Publications, Unpublished Writings and Films, 1985


Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) FILM SCRIPTS AND VIDEOTAPES: 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."


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


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


Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) AUDIOCASSETTES: 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.

New Guinea Tapes

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


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


Scope and Content of Series

Series 4) PHOTOGRAPHS: 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.


Box 4 Folder 1
Photographs of Artifacts
Box 4 Folder 2
Malaita, Solomon Islands
Box 4 Folder 3
New Guinea, 1981
Box 4 Folder 4
New Guinea (Dutch New Guinea/Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea)
Box 4 Folder 5
Box 4 Folder 6
Vanuatu-Tanna Island


Box 4 Folder 7
Papua New Guinea-Amgotor and Waina, 1961
Box 4 Folder 8
Papua New Guinea, 1963
Box 4 Folder 9
Papua New Guinea, 1966 - 1975
Box 4 Folder 10
Solomon Islands, Especially Malaita, 1979
Box 4 Folder 11
Vanuatu-Pentecost (Island), 1982
Box 4 Folder 12
Vanuatu-Tanna, John Frum Cult Sulphur Bay, 1977 - 1981


Box 5 Folder 1 Oversize FB4421
Scrapbooks: New Guinea Patrol, 1966 - 1968
Box 5 Folder 2 Oversize FB4422
Scrapbooks: New Guinea, 1961