African American Studies at Beinecke Library

Solomon Sir Jones Films

Posted in African American Studies at Yale, announcements, Beinecke Collections, Research Resources by beineckepoetry on September 4, 2012

The Beinecke library is pleased to announce that the Solomon Sir Jones film collection is now available for research; the films can be viewed online from the library’s web page:  SOLOMON SIR JONES FILMS, 1924-1928.

The Solomon Sir Jones films consist of 29 silent black and white films documenting African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928. The films measure 12,800 feet (355 min). All films are B-wind positive prints, except one roll that contains approximately 150 feet of orange base B-wind positive.

Jones filmed Oklahoma residents in their homes; during their social, school and church activities; in the businesses they owned; and performing various jobs. The films document several Oklahoma communities, including Muskogee, Okmulgee, Tulsa, Wewoka, Bristow and Taft. The films also document Jones’s trips to Indiana, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, New York City, South Carolina, Colorado, and overseas to France, England, Palestine, Switzerland, Italy, Northern Africa, and Germany. Slates between scenes identify locations, dates, and subjects.

Jones frequently filmed at various locations by positioning himself outside a building while people exited the building in a line. This perspective provides footage of people as they walk by the camera, usually looking directly at it. Footage of churches includes congregants exiting the service and socializing outside; footage of schools often includes students playing outside or doing exercises; and footage of people at their home includes them outside on their porches or in their yards. Aside from church and scheduled school activities, people presumably exited at Jones’s request for the purpose of being filmed by him.

Solomon Sir Jones (1869-1936), Baptist minister, businessman, and amateur filmmaker. Jones was born in Tennessee to former slaves and grew up in the South before moving to Oklahoma in 1889. Jones became an influential Baptist minister, building and pastoring fifteen churches. He was head of the Boyd Faction of Negro Baptists in America and was a successful businessman.

Image: Still from Film #2:, Solomon Sir Jones Films. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library; Call number: WA MSS S-2636

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