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Video Archive

Videos courtesy of the University of South Carolina's Moving Image Resource Center (MIRC)

Work Songs

Deer Hunting Party

Sapelo Sea Island, GA (December 29, 1928)
Fox Movietone News

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, spends his Christmas vacation deer hunting on the Georgia Sea Islands. These staged "rustic" shots of the island feature African-American locals singing plantation melodies like "My Old Kentucky Home," "Steal Away," and "Give Me That Old Time Religion."

Chain Gang

Augusta, GA (March 18, 1929)
Fox Movietone News

Long shot of five convicts swinging picks and singing "When My Pick Strikes Fire," and calling for the "water boy" who we later see drawing water from a well.

Railroad Gandydancers

Columbia, SC (April 18, 1929)
Fox Movietone News

Construction is begun on the world's largest earthen dam, a project, our narrator tells us (not included in this video clip), that is proof of the great technological strides being made in the south. Sandwiched in between shots of steam shovels and industrial cranes is this crew of African-American railroad workers or "gandydancers" repairing and moving large sections of railroad track to the intricate calls and rhythms of an expert caller.

Solo & Ensemble Performances

Uncle John Scruggs

Richmond, VA (November 8, 1928)
Fox Movietone News

This clip of Scruggs, who was born a slave, is a good example of white-influenced black music as it probably sounded at the end of the 19th century. He is performing the folk ballad "Little Log Cabin Round the Lane" in a minstrel style.

Jenkins Orphanage Band

Charleston, SC (November 22, 1928)
Fox Movietone News

This Movietonews story appears to be the only known recording of this group. Dubbed by jazz historian John Chilton "The Jazz Nursery," the Jenkins Orphanage band produced several jazz greats including trumpeter Jabbo Smith and guitarist Freddie Green. The group's distinctive conductors are also credited by Willie "the Lion" Smith as having created the dance phenomenon "The Charleston."

Rust College Concert Company

Holly Springs, MS (February, 1929)
Fox Movietone News

This is a good example of the concert spiritual and how popular it continued to be well into the early decades of the 20th century. The choir is singing an arrangement of "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray."

Church/Sacred Music

African-American Baptism

Newport News, VA (February 1929)
Fox Movietone News

Led by Bishop Charles M. "Sweet Daddy" Grace, this African-American "revival" features spiritual singing and many scenes of the newly converted being baptized by immersion in the river.

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