America 100 years ago on film

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The Library of Congress a few days ago uploaded a playlist to its YouTube channel entitled America at Work, America at Leisure, containing 150 motion pictures from 1894 to 1915. “Highlights include films of the United States Postal Service from 1903, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, calisthenic and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events.”

I watched in amazement the videos relating to the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 which featured, among other things, the “Esquimaux village” where Eskimos showed off “typical Eskimo games” like leapfrop for popular enjoyment, and a sham battle between Native Americans and, I guess, the US cavalry (part 1 and part 2). The things people found exciting back then. I once almost wrote my PhD on shows like that, you know.

But it also contains this lovely little scene, children in the surf at Coney Island. Remember, Helmut, that Russian bar on the boardwalk?

Don’t miss the boats from minute 3:02!

I stumbled across these short silent films while checking what Uwe Klemm at Eventualitätswabe is up to. And you can bet I’ll be using them for storytelling in the coming weeks. But enough for now. Happy weekend to everybody!


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