Henry Browne, Farmer, is an 11-minute film showing the daily life of a patriotic African-American farmer in Georgia during World War II. Browne farms with mules, not a tractor. He is growing some peanuts rather than the usual cotton and corn because the government said it needed the peanut oil for the war effort. His son and daughter are involved in 4-H projects, raising a calf and managing chickens. This brief film even manages to promote contour plowing and drinking milk to build strong bones. This film, and others like it, are available online through the National Archives.
More than 2,000 “ephemeral” films are now at the National Archives. Ephemeral films include advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films that offer a unique view of what life was like. Rick Prelinger, New York City, founded the Prelinger Archives of “ephemeral” films in 1983. His inventory of advertizing, educational, industrial, and amateur films grew to 60,000 in 2002, when it was acquired by the Library of congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. To access other films in the Internet Archives of the Library of Congress, go to http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.
To learn more about Rick Prelinger, visit his blog, BlackOystercatcher (http://www.prelinger.com/). Prelinger is an archivist who likes to let the original material speak for itself.