MSU Library acquires materials from filmmaker, writer John Heminway

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Montana State University’s Library has acquired a collection of materials from John Heminway, a Bozeman-based award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker.

BOZEMAN — Montana State University’s Library has acquired a collection of materials from John Heminway, a Bozeman-based award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker.

“John Heminway’s collection reflects the life’s work of one of Bozeman’s most creative forces, and it will be a wonderful addition to the MSU Library Special Collections and Archives,” said Kenning Arlitsch, MSU Library dean. “It will become a teaching and research tool for students and faculty interested in communicating environmental, social and scientific developments.”

The collection, which will be available for the public to view in MSU Library’s Special Collection and Archives, covers more than 55 years of “adventuring, writing and reporting on the wonders of the world, the treasures of our environment and the human condition in some of the Earth’s most remote and wild regions,” according to Timothy Gordon, a colleague of Heminway’s who is familiar with the collection. Dating from the 1960s through today, the collection includes manuscripts, scripts and screenplays written by Heminway; interviews; original 16 mm films; correspondence; journals; historical photography; and printed materials.

“I feel enormously comfortable — indeed honored — that the MSU Library has now become the guardian of my life’s work,” Heminway said. “There are few words left to describe my good luck pursuing a career that has taken me to glorious corners of the Earth, introduced me to giants and forced me to pose endless questions. I hope that my scribblings and films will inspire others to take up the journey, tell stories and endeavor to change minds.”

Heminway’s career as a “filmmaker’s filmmaker” includes more than 100 films spanning four decades. His documentaries about science, the environment and Africa, in particular, have earned him two Emmys, two Peabody Awards and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award. His 2013 broadcast of “Battle for the Elephants,” produced with Katie Carpenter and J.J. Kelley, was voted the best conservation film at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The sequel to the film, “Warlords of Ivory,” in which Heminway exposed how the illicit ivory trade funds militias and terrorist groups by placing GPS trackers into fake ivory tusks, re-launched National Geographic Channel’s Explorer Series and was nominated for an Emmy as well as honored in a special ceremony at the United Nations.

In addition to his filmmaking work he has written books about Africa and Montana including “In Full Flight” and “Yonder: A Place in Montana,” a memoir about living in the West Boulder Valley.

A native of New York City, Heminway, his wife and daughter have lived in Bozeman for more than 15 years. Heminway has been an adjunct lecturer at the MSU School of Film and Photography, as well as a supporter of MSU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders and its work in Kenya, hosting screenings of his films as fundraisers for the group. 

Montana residents and MSU affiliates may borrow materials from the MSU Library, and everyone is welcome in the library. More information is available at

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