Thomas Cripps film collection, 1898-1976 and undated.


Thomas Cripps film collection, 1898-1976 and undated.

Collection comprises films and photographic stills from films. The thirty-seven films, which have been transferred to VHS viewing copies, are film shorts, clips from feature films, newsreels, "Soundies," and television commercials, and were collected by Thomas Cripps for their portrayals of African Americans, performance by African Americans, or production by African Americans from the turn of the century into the late 1960s 1970s. He also collected materials reflecting other racial and ethnic stereotypes. The films can be used to study a variety of themes and subjects: African American artists; political and social events; educational institutions for African Americans; the Depression; television culture and advertising; and racial or ethnic stereotypes (chiefly African American, but also Jewish, Irish, and Asian). Many of the early films feature cityscapes of New York, Baltimore, and San Francisco, and other urban scenes, some from as early as 1898 and 1900. Some portray African Americans in several wars, including the Spanish-American War, World War II, and the Korean War. Other films document civil rights era events. Recorded political events include a Harry Truman speech concerning the Civil Rights Commission report, and a Lyndon Johnson speech on civil rights. Among the many notable actors and performers in the films are Duke Ellington, Jesse Owen, Louis Armstrong, Lincoln Perry ("Stepin Fetchit"), and Bert Williams. The entry for "Paisan - the Black Story" refers to Rossellini's film on the relations between Italians and American GIs during World War II, "Paisan," in which one episode centers on an African American GI and a Neapolitan street urchin. Entries for original film reels include the approximate length of the film and other information when possible; titles are retained as found on Cripps' original labels or notes. Viewing copies for these films are available on VHS. Note: Viewing copy titles provide a more accurate account of content and running time. The photographic prints, of which there are several hundred, consist of publicity stills and other images taken from U.S. and British feature films featuring African American actors from the silent film era through the 1970s. Many entries, which have been retained from the original envelope labels, carry titles from individual films, but other prints were arranged by Cripps into topical categories such as "Black Athletes," "Jungle Pix," "Silent Films," and "Exotic Primitives." One significant group contains images from the movies of pioneer African American director Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951). Arranged as received, in alphabetical order by film title or topical heading. Acquired as part of the Duke University Archive of Documentary Arts.

975 items (5.5 lin. ft.)

Related Entities

There are 3 Entities related to this resource.

Cripps, Thomas. (person)

Retired professor of history at Morgan State University, scholar of the history of African Americans in the motion picture industry, prolific author of books and articles on the subject, and script writer. From the description of Thomas Cripps film collection, 1898-1976 and undated. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 317363598 ...

Micheaux, Oscar, 1884-1951 (person)

Oscar Micheaux (b. Jan. 2, 1884, Metropolis, IL–d. March 25, 1951, Charlotte, NC) was born to Calvin and Bell Michaux, both former slaves. He started working as a teenager in various jobs (in stockyard, steel mills, as a shoe shiner, and eventually a Pullman porter) before buying a homestead in Gregory County, SD. While on his homestead he married Orlean McCracken although the marriage did not last. Micheaux started writing for The Chicago Defender urging black people to take advantage of the la...

Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University) (corporateBody)

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States entirely devoted to documentary film. An international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of non-fiction cinema, the Festival is held annually for four days in the spring in downtown Durham, North Carolina. Typically, more than 100 films are screened, along with discussions, panels, and workshops fostering conversation between filmmakers, film professionals and the public. ...