Archive | February, 2010

Film and Media Archive in the News

24 Feb

Washington University’s Film and Media Archive was featured on an episode of Impact shown on HEC-TV, the Arts, Culture and Higher Education Channel.

Hosted by Cordell Whitlock and featuring interviews with the Film Archive staff and clips from the Henry Hampton Collection and Eyes on the Prize, the episode can be seen here. The segment on the Archive begins at about 12:00 minutes and shows manuscripts, film clips, photos and behind-the-scenes shots of the Film Archive.

Film Stacks in the WU Film & Media Archive

Photo by Dave Henderson

Jo Ann Robinson


Travel Grant Competition

23 Feb

Announcing the Travel Grant Competition sponsored by the Department of Special Collections, Washington University Libraries.

Application Deadline: applications must be emailed, faxed, or postmarked by March 15, 2010.

Travel reimbursement grants of up to $1000 are available to faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent scholars who would like to use our collections for research. Funds may be used for transportation, food, lodging, and photocopying. Applicants must reside 50 miles or more from St. Louis.

The Department of Special Collections is a multi-faceted research institution that contains materials related to a wide variety of academic disciplines. Below is a listing of some of our major collections:

Film and Media Archive: The Film and Media Archive is committed to the preservation of documentary film and other media which chronicle America’s great political and social movements, with a particular emphasis on the African-American experience. The collections of prominent filmmakers Henry Hampton (Eyes on the Prize) and William Miles (I Remember Harlem) include hundreds of hours of high quality programming and feature a comprehensive and diverse array of primary interviews, photos, archival footage, and written documents that they gathered during the film production process. For more information, contact Joe Thompson at or (314) 935-8739.

Manuscripts: Collections of literary papers, press archives, and magazine archives. The bulk of the collection consists of the papers of major 20th-century literary figures including James Merrill, Samuel Beckett, Howard Nemerov, Stanley Elkin, William Gass, Mona Van Duyn, and many others. For more information, contact John Hodge at or (314) 935-5413.

Modern Graphic History Library: Dedicated to acquiring and preserving distinguished works of modern illustration and pictorial graphic culture. Focusing on artists’ working materials and sketches as well as finished artworks, the range of the collection extends from book, magazine, and advertising illustration to graphic novels, comics, poster design, pictorial information design, and animation. For more information, contact Skye Lacerte at or (314) 935-7741.

Rare Books: Collection strengths include the history of books and printing, especially the English Arts & Crafts movement; the book arts; semeiology and the history of non-verbal communication; a collection of Little Black Sambo books and related objects; and 19th- and 20th-century British and American literature complementing the modern literary archives housed in the manuscript unit. For more information, contact Erin Davis at or (314) 935-5583.

University Archives: The Washington University Archives is comprised of more than 300 unique collections. Most collections chronicle the long history of Washington University from 1853 to the present day. These diverse collections range from the writings of University co-founder William G. Eliot, to student produced publications, and professional and personal papers of faculty members such as Arthur Holly Compton. Other collections relate to 20th-century St. Louis history, with a focus on business, transportation, politics, social welfare, urban planning, and architecture. Finding aids describing the collections are available to researchers on-line. For more information, contact Sonya Rooney at or (314) 935-9730.

Download the application form here.

Announcing the Annual William Miles Essay Contest

18 Feb

William Miles

This prize honors the life and work of filmmaker William Miles, who chronicled the achievements of African Americans in documentaries such as I Remember Harlem and Men of Bronze.  The Washington University Film and Media Archive houses the William Miles Collection.  In partnership with the Program in African & African-American Studies, the archive will award an undergraduate prize of $500 to an outstanding essay, or other serious research project, that makes significant use of rare or unique materials from the archive.

The Film and Media Archive is a treasure trove of 20th-century African-American history and culture, and of American history and culture more broadly.  Areas represented in the archive include: the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Depression, Great Society programs, 20th-century African-American culture and arts, African Americans in the military, African Americans in science, Pro-democracy movements in Africa (Benin, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa), and many other topics related to 20th-century American history and culture.

Eligibility Requirements and Other Information:

  • Essays must be at least 8 pages. Other types of serious research projects are also eligible for the prize (e.g., a documentary film or a multimedia website).
  • Essays and projects must make significant use of rare or unique materials in the Film and Media Archive.
  • Entries are welcome from any academic discipline.
  • All entrants must take a tour of the archive and have a consultation with the archive staff by March 1, 2010.  To schedule your tour and consultation, please contact Alison Carrick at
  • Entries are due April 1, 2010.

For more information about the Film and Media Archive, please visit

The Freedom Riders

2 Feb

A new documentary “The Freedom Riders” premiered at the Sundance film festival last week. The director, Stanley Nelson, is interviewed on Democracy Now, along with Freedom Riders, Bernard Lafayette and Jim Zwerg. Episode three of “Eyes on the Prize: Ain’t Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961)” has a segment on this pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

In May 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), organized a group of students to protest segregation on interstate buses. They called themselves Freedom Riders and rode in mixed groups throughout the Deep South and were met with mobs and violence. Several riders, including Jim Zwerg, were severely beaten and one bus was set on fire in Anniston, Alabama.

Jim Zwerg, Montgomery, Alabama, 1961

Jim Zwerg, Montgomery, Alabama, 1961

Eventually the National Guard was called out to protect the riders, but not before extensive negotiations between the Attorney General, Robert Kennedy and Governor Patterson. Protection was late and sporadic and in an episode in Birmingham, Police Chief Bull Connor gave the mob and Ku Klux Klan a pre-arranged time (five minutes) to have free reign with the riders, before they would move in to make arrests. Blackside did original research on this agreement. The information was not used in the final program, but the documents can be viewed at the Film Archive.

Several people involved in the Freedom Rides were interviewed by Blackside for this episode, see the list below. The interview with Frederick Leonard is particularly gripping as he describes the attack that occurred at the Greyhound station in Birmingham, Alabama.

Gordon Carey, CORE member

James Farmer, CORE director

Bernard LaFayette, Freedom Rider (Audio pre-interview for “Eyes I.” Filmed interview for “Eyes on the Prize II”)

Frederick Leonard, Freedom Rider

John Lewis, SNCC member

Diane Nash,SNCC member

James Peck, Freedom Rider

John Patterson, Governor of Alabama

John Sigenthaler, Executive Assistant to Robert Kennedy

These interviews can be accessed at the “Eyes on the Prize” Interview page:

Jim Zwerg was not interviewed by Blackside, but the Archive has stock footage of him after the attacks. Please contact the Archive for more information.

Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre

1 Feb

Many of the producers who have worked for Blackside, the production company founded by Henry Hampton, continue to enjoy distinguished filmmaking careers. Starting with this post, we will provide updates on the work of Blackside alumni.

A veteran of many civil rights campaigns with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and other social justice organizations, Judy Richardson first began working for Blackside in 1978. She served as series research consultant on the first Eyes on the Prize series, and as series associate producer for Eyes on the Prize II. She was also the co-producer of Malcolm X: Make it Plain. Ms. Richardson is now a senior producer at Northern Light Productions in Boston, Massachusetts, and continues to lecture and conduct teacher-training workshops on the history and values of the Movement.

One of Northern Light’s upcoming films is Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968, to be broadcast on PBS in February 2010. On February 6, 1968, African American students from South Carolina State College and from Claflin University—located side by side in Orangeburg—tried to integrate the All-Star Bowling Lanes. Located five minutes from both campuses, All-Star was the only bowling alley in that city. Despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act four years earlier, the owner retained his whites-only policy and refused to admit the students.

Local police supported the owner and tried to remove the students. An altercation ensued. When it was over, nine students and one policeman received medical treatment at a nearby hospital. According to journalist Jack Bass, who investigated the events in Orangeburg, “[South Carolina State] College faculty and administrators at the scene witnessed at least two instances in which a female student was held by one officer and clubbed by another.”

After that incident, the governor of South Carolina, Robert E. McNair, sent National Guard units to Orangeburg to set up road blocks around S.C. State. Many at the college were angry about the police actions on the 6th, and saw the Guard deployment as an aggressive act. On the night of February 8, some students lit a bonfire on the street in front of the campus. A fire truck arrived to put out the fire, accompanied by state troopers. The troopers marched toward the crowd and the students retreated, but a policeman was struck in the face by a piece of a banister that had been randomly tossed by a demonstrator.

Later, a number of students streamed back toward the remains of the bonfire. Shortly thereafter, officers fired repeatedly into the crowd with a variety of weapons, including shotguns loaded with high-caliber buck shot. According to medical records, 30 students were struck by the gunfire, nearly all of them in the back or side as they fled on the campus. Some were shot in the feet or legs while lying on the ground. Three of the wounded—Samuel Hammond Jr., Delano Middleton, and Henry Smith—died as a result of their injuries. A number of the victims reported hearing laughter from the police after the shooting ended. A subsequent FBI investigation found no evidence that guns had been fired by anyone other than the police.

On February 26, 1968, following a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the owner of All-Star Lanes allowed black customers into his establishment. The only person to be convicted as a result of the Massacre was a young black man from the local area, Cleveland Sellers. A veteran civil rights organizer with SNCC, Sellers had recently left the voter registration campaigns in Mississippi and Alabama to return to school at S.C. State. A South Carolina jury convicted Sellers of rioting—after the charges against him were changed from the night of the Massacre to the night of the blowing alley demonstration two days earlier—and he served seven months in the state penitentiary. Sellers received a full pardon in 1993.

The Massacre is commemorated every year at S. C. State University, and calls for a new investigation are increasing. Scarred Justice uses historical footage and original interviews from a wide range of participants to report this forgotten chapter in U.S. history. It was the only film screened at the NAACP’s centennial convention in July 2009. The following day, President Barack Obama addressed the convention, as did keynote speaker Julian Bond, a longtime civil rights activist and the narrator of Eyes on the Prize.

For more information about Scarred Justice and other films by Northern Light Productions, please visit the company’s home page:

Northern Lights Productions