An extensive collection of 1920s era home film, made by Baptist minister Solomon Sir Jones, has been made available online thanks to the Beinecke Library at Yale University.  Jones was was a well-connected businessman and minister in the Baptist Church from Oklahoma who was born to former slaves in Tennessee in 1869.

Jones traveled around the South (as well as the rest of the U.S. and abroad) extensively and didn’t seem shy about pulling out his camera. We’re left with a rich visual documentation of life in the 20s (see stills below). You can access the films at the Yale University Beinecke Library Rare Book and Manuscript Collection.

Here is the press release from Yale.

In a New York Times piece on the collection in 2009 (before Yale acquired it), Currie Ballard, an Oklahoman and historian, comments that the collection represents ‘a very cheerful, uplifting side of African-American culture that you rarely see in films of the time.’

The collection houses 12,800 feet of 16mm film – almost 6 hours worth.  Below, some selected stills:

“People Exiting Church”
The Madame C.J. Walker Theater in Indianapolis
“Turkey Day Football Game – MTH Muskogee 9 vs BWH Tulsa 13”


“Mt. Carmel Where Elijah Called Down Fire,” from a trip to Palestine.
“A Funeral March”

Earlier, we wrote about the home movies of Ernest Beane, who also had a rich collection of films from the 30s and 40s, and the collection of educational films released by Indiana University, featuring some interesting footage of black churches, among other things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s