The Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection

From Black Art in America:

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stills from films in the Tyler Black Film Collection at the Hamon Arts Library

The Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection is comprised of film shorts, features and newsreels produced between 1935 and 1956. “The African-American films include comedies, dramas, news, and musical performances, and were made outside the Hollywood system by pioneering directors and producers such as Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, and William Alexander”. (Above: stills from films in the Tyler Black Film Collection at the Hamon Arts Library)

Race films from the 1930s and 40s were discovered in an East Texas warehouse in 1983 “on miraculously well-preserved nitrate stock and transferred to safety film in 1985”. The films were then digitized and have become a part of the The G. William Jones Film & Video Collection within the SMU Digital Collections at the Hamon Arts Library.

One of the more notable films within the collection is The Blood of Jesus, “A Biblical fantasy about a dead woman’s soul caught between Heaven and Hell, The Blood of Jesus is also a fascinating document about faith and the everyday struggles of African-Americans during the WWII era”. The film was shown at the Austrian Film Festival and at the Museum of Modern Art in accompaniment of One-Way Ticket, the Jacob Lawrence Migration Series exhibition. (Right: still from the film, Blood of Jesus, by Spencer Williams)

Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas is the location of the Hamon Arts Library that boasts a collection of more than 180,000 articles which relate to performing and visual arts.

For more information on these Harmon Arts Library digital resources visit the Tyler Texas Black Film Collection website

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