Behind the Camera

Behind the Camera

Prelinger Collection - Can 11279 - Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclave, Detroit, Michigan, December 27-30, 1965

Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclave, Detroit, Michigan, December 27-30,1965 – Prelinger Collection – 

These films focus on home movies shot by African Americans – not films simply depicting the black community. This is because the Home Movie Registry wanted to highlight the importance of the first-person perspective. Through birthday parties, family holidays, and ordinary family hangouts, African American home movies paint a different picture. One that accentuates the culturally and socially multifaceted actuality of this ethnic group in the United States.

Texas Archive of the Moving Image - The J. Richard Avena and Linda Wilson Collection
Texas Archive of the Moving Image - The Marcellus Hartman Collection

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In Front of the Camera

The Michael Cook Jr. Collection, also from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, is an 8mm home movie collection containing scenes of Michael Cook, Jr.’s time as a U.S. Airman stationed at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska and his home in Texas.


Easter Morning and the Girls Riding Bikes captures scenes of the Cook family at home in San Antonio, as they get dressed up to celebrate Easter, as well as images of the daughters riding their tricycle and bicycle around their neighborhood in San Antonio in the early 1960s.


The Texas Archive of the Moving Image‘s Thomas F. Freeman Collection spans from 1968-76 and documents his career as a professor and debate coach at prestigious Houston universities, his home life, and his service as a minister at Houston’s Mt. Horem Baptist Church.


Reel no. 4 – Holiday Celebrations captures scenes of the Thomas F. Freeman family celebrating Christmas and the holiday season in 1973. The family enjoys unwrapping presents, assembling gifts, and attending holiday parties. Footage of Thomas Jr. playing bass guitar and singing in a performance with his band is also included in this film.

Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library‘s Solomon Sir Jones Collection consists of 29 silent black and white films documenting African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928, and travels around the United States and the world. Jones filmed Oklahoma residents in their homes; during their social, school and church activities; in the businesses they owned; and performing various jobs.


SOLOMON SIR JONES FILM 17 (1926-1927) shows scenes from Langston, Chandler, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, including views of a boarding house, a high school, needlepoint group, parade, the State Spelling Bee for Negroes, the Education Board of Oklahoma, and a Baptist church.

An untitled collection from the Prelinger Archives contains films shot by an African American family who spent much of their time (or lived) in the Midwest. 


Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclave, Detroit, Michigan, December 27-30, 1965 is a home movie from the 50th Grand Conclave of the predominantly African American fraternity shot in and around the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. It shows crowds outside hotel gathering for a group picture, social activities, Wilt Chamberlain arriving at hotel, members eating in diner, and evening social activities inside hotel.