Friday, November 7, 2014
Last night attended a talk by Southern Studies fellow Melissa Cooper, who used film clips from USC's Moving Image Research Collections (repository of the Fox Movietone News Collection) to look into how black Americans were portrayed in early newsreels. It was fascinating, and also made me wonder what kind of treasures might be available in my special areas of interest, the WPA. The bulk of her presentation concerned the 1928 vacation trip of Calvin Coolidge to Sapelo Island and the staged scenes of black residents marching and singing, or riding in ox carts. The real question was who was most responsible for the stages scenes and possibly pushed the choice of songs. I was curious as to who exactly manned the crew, and if there was any record they left of how they decided to set up the shots and if there was direct instruction, either from their bosses or from the wealthy owner of the island, or from Coolidge's staff. What a wonderful resource this could be to historian, just another advancement for the University of South Carolina in historical research. I do enjoy these lectures, a small link for me to my historian roots. There was quite a nice crowd, enthusiastic and interested, and I hope they keep these talks going.