The Dana Brown Collection

7 Jun

An Exhibit: June – August, 2012

Image from The Dana Brown Collection – Washington University Film & Media Archive

An exhibit introducing the recently acquired Dana Brown Collection will be on view at the Film & Media Archive from June – August 2012. The Archive is open Monday – Friday, 8:30 – 5:00.

Dana Brown was born in West Virginia in 1905. The eleventh of twelve children, Brown left home as a teenager and traveled across America working a variety of jobs, many of them involving manual labor on the railroad, or as a ranch hand, before eventually finding work as a Fuller Brush salesman. By 1946 he was living in St. Louis and working for the General Grocer Co. In 1950 Manhattan Coffee was established as a division of General Grocer and Dana Brown became linked with the product that would help earn his fortune. From the 1950s on he went on a series of journeys and safaris and began documenting his trips with film and audio recordings.

From 1954 to 1990, he went on over 35 trips, and his destinations included the Belgian Congo, Nepal, Sumatra, India, Angola, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Vietnam, and many other places. As time went on, he incorporated the footage and audio he captured into commercials and nature films that gave viewers a glimpse of amazing landscapes and animals, and almost always ended with a mention of Safari coffee. Brown eventually left Manhattan Coffee, which had been bought by Nestle, to start his own coffee company and continued to sell Safari coffee. Brown’s entrepreneurial success enabled his philanthropy and he gave a $10,000 gift to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis in 1985. The trust he established continues to pursue charitable works.

The Dana Brown Collection contains original film and audio material, scripts, and correspondence, including Dana Brown’s letters to editors of various publications. Researchers will find a rich source of material in this collection about the cultural history of the mid-to-late twentieth century as well as an environmental record of natural areas throughout Africa and Asia.

For more information, please contact the Film & Media Archive.

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