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Hoefler (Paul L.) Collection - Africa and India
Acc.4054, Acc.4115  
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Collection Overview
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Accessions Acc.4115 and Acc.4054 contain photographic and written documentation from Paul L. Hoefler’s expeditions to the Africa continent: first as a photographer for Dr. Cadel in the Denver Africa Expedition from 1925-1926 and later as the principal explorer in the Colorado African Expedition from 1928-1929. Hoefler also made an expedition to India, the Colorado Asiatic Expedition from 1930-1931. The collection consists of cellulose nitrate photographic negatives, original photographic prints from the negatives, Hoefler’s book Africa Speaks, and Hoefler’s photographic captions, periodicals, biography, scripts, magazines, and correspondence. Scanned images of 1437 negatives, 69 photographs, and one video recording are available on the Museum’s collection portal (see “Online Items URL” below.) Specifically, Acc.4054 contains 1136 black and white negatives, catalog numbers 15-30184 – 15-30750, 15-32141 – 15-32710 and 69 black and white photographs catalog numbers 13-6912.1 – 13-6912.2, 13-6933, 13-6936 – 13-6945, 13-6950.1 – 13-6950.4, 13-6970 – 13-6989, 13-7002 – 13-7035. The images depict landscapes, wildlife, towns, and the people of Uganda, Kenya, Chad, Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Japan, Hawaii, London, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Yemen, dating from the late 1920s to early 1930s. Many of the images are accompanied by Hoefler's descriptions on typed index cards. Acc.4054 also contains expedition images from newspaper spreads, promotional posters, and advertisements for the film Africa Speaks!; the Colorado African Expedition; a presentation Hoefler gave at the University of California Berkeley; a solicitation for reproductions of Hoefler’s photos; and an image of Hoefler’s book Africa Speaks!. Images are labeled “Denver African Expedition” and/or the donor’s original number. There is one video recording, catalog number 26-90 of Africa Speaks! with a corresponding typed card. Accession 4115 contains 301 black and white negatives, catalog numbers 15-30750, 15-32141 – 15-32440, of landscapes, wildlife, towns, and the people of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as some photos of London, dated to the late 1920s. Many images are labeled with what appears to be the donor’s original number, although they have been partially cropped out in the digital scans. One image, 15-32320, is labeled as “Denver African Expedition.”
Paul Louis Hoefler (1893-1982) was born in Spokane, Washington. Working as a cameraman during his early life, Hoefler eventually moved to Denver, Colorado in 1915, where he continued his work in film and photography. Hoefler first traveled to southern Africa as a member of the Denver African Expedition of 1925, traversing the Kalahari Desert and taking photographs and film of the San Bushmen. His 1927 eight-reel silent film The Bushmen (currently housed in the South African FIlm, Video, and Sound Archive), is reportedly the first film footage of the bushmen of southwest Africa. While planning for his next expedition, Hoefler resided at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, with his wife Maude, and their daughter Jacqueline. From 1928-1929, Hoefler led the Colorado African Expedition. The 14-month trip, reportedly the first transcontinental journey across Africa by car, took Hoefler from Mombasa, Kenya to Lagos, Nigeria. During the journey, Hoefler shot over forty thousand feet of film, capturing images of the native peoples of East Africa, as well as the wildlife. Most remarkably, Hoefler shot film of the rare white rhino. Upon returning to Denver, Hoefler rejoined his wife and daughter at the Brown Palace Hotel. The footage of the Colorado African Expedition eventually became the first sound film about Africa, Africa Speaks!. Produced by Hoefler in 1929, the film was released in 1931, the same year that Hoefler’s account of the expedition was published as the book Africa Speaks - A Story of Adventure (John C. Winston Co., 1931). The book offered a chronological account of events during the expedition, which traveled from east to west; however, the film showed the expedition’s footage in reverse, in order for the lions of the east to act as the film’s climax. In November 1929, Hoefler became a member of the Explorer’s Club in New York City. In February 1931, Hoefler also became a member of the Royal Geographical Society in London. From 1931-1932, Hoefler led the Colorado Asiatic Expedition to India and Sri Lanka, this time accompanied by his wife and daughter. In 1936, he founded Paul L. Hoefler’s World Picture Service, which offered negatives from his travels to periodicals and educational organizations. Later that year, he joined the Asiatic-Africa Expedition of 1936. During World War II, Hoefler served in the US Air Force as a reconnaissance photographer, and later served as the Director of Public Relations in the Middle East. After the war, Hoefler moved to La Jolla, California, where he founded Paul L. Hoefler Productions. His company produced over eighty 16mm educational films about diverse locations around the world. Hoefler eventually became friends with Walt Disney and during the 1950s, Hoefler distributed Disney’s films in South Africa, while Disney distributed Hoefler’s films in the United States. In addition, Hoefler served on the board of the San Diego Zoo, bringing an African white rhino to the zoo. Hoefler died in 1982 in San Diego, California. Most of his estate was donated to the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley (Hearst Museum), as well as the Denver Museum of Natural History. Within all three expeditions, Hoefler or a hired photographer took photos of native people, wildlife, landscape, and towns/cities of the countries he visited. Hoefler wrote his own captions for each photo, documenting his experiences on the trip in addition to a description of the photograph. These exist as typed cards, which can be found within the Hearst Museum’s database records of the negatives.
The Paul L. Hoefler collection contains Hoefler’s extensive photographic documentation of animals and peoples in Africa; predominantly Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as India. Additional photographs were taken in Chad, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Japan, Nepal, Yemen, and Hawaii, as well as in London and Hong Kong. Hoefler’s notes and documentation of his experiences can be found typed on separate index cards. In addition to his observations, Hoefler discusses his own feelings and interactions with the people and wildlife in the countries he visited.
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