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We would like to continue to find, archive, and preserve many of these old films. It is expensive work, especially the preservation and conversion of old 16-mm films. You can help with a donation. Thanks.

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A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures
streamed with essays about the traditions and filmmaking. The site includes transcriptions, study and teaching guides, suggested readings, and links to related websites.  


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 Spirits in the Wood: The Chainsaw Art of Skip Armstrong
Selected Films

The Films of Tom Davenport

Filmmaker and founder Tom Davenport produced the American Traditional Culture series films with Folklorist Daniel Patterson and the Curriculum in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this fruitful collaboration their goal was to create films with universal appeal and rich i...

The Films of Tom Davenport

Filmmaker and founder Tom Davenport produced the American Traditional Culture series films with Folklorist Daniel Patterson and the Curriculum in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this fruitful collaboration their goal was to create films with universal appeal and rich in contextual development and background materials. Tom Davenport, now seventy-seven years old, is best known for his dramatic adaptations of Folktales in the From the Brothers Grimm series, and Dan Patterson (now in his mid eighties) for his work as a scholar of Shaker song and history. The two men met in Hillborough, N.C., in 1972, the start of their work together on "The Shakers."

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Alex Green Tours Markham
Alex Green, a long time store keeping and post master in the small Virginia town of Markham, tells stories about the town with his daughter Mary Blake Green.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Rural Life / Middle Atlantic / 2014
16 minutes | Read More

The Ballad of Frankie Silver
In 1833 Mrs. Frances Silver was hanged in Morganton, North Carolina, for the ax murder of her husband Charles. Tom Davenport's film explores the case through the singing and stories of Bobby McMillon and the comments of North Carolina Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Gray and others.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Women / Appalachia / 1996
47 minutes | Read More | Preview

Being A Joines: A Life in the Brushy Mountains
John E. "Frail" Joines was a master tale teller from Wilkes County, N. C., on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His hunting tales, stories from World War II, and religious narratives, and the life stories of Frail Joines and his wife Blanche mirror changes that swept away much of the traditional culture of his Appalachian rural community in a single generation and show the character and values with which his family met these circumstances.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Religion, Women, Work, Agriculture, Family, Rural Life, Sports/Hunting / Appalachia / 1981
55 minutes | Read More | Preview

Blow the Tannery Whistle: A Western North Carolina Story
Playwrite Gary Carden's story of growing up in Sylva, North Carolina.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Family, Regional / Appalachia / 1994
34 minutes | Read More

Bodhidharma's Shoe
Tom Davenport's account of a seven day intensive Zen sesshin or retreat at Bodhi Manda Zen Center, Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
Religion, Fusion / Southwest / 2008
23 minutes | Read More | Preview

Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson
A film portrait of the last Black medicine-show performer, Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson, with harmonica songs, tales of hoboing, buckdances, and a live medicine-show performance.
Healing & Medicine, Music, Narrative & Verbal Arts, Aging, African American Culture / South / 1976
29 minutes | Read More | Preview

The Cradle is Rocking
George "Kid Shiek" Colar and the Olympia Brass Band are featured in this rare film about New Orleans Jazz, directed by Frank DeCola and photographed by Tom Davenport.
Music, Religion, African American Culture / South / 1968
12 minutes | Read More | Preview

It Ain't City Music
It Ain't City Music was filmed at the National Country Music Contest at Lake Whippoorwill in Warrenton, Virginia, in 1972. "Any country song you hear nowadays, the guy's either in jail or just got divorced," notes a man who continues, "but it's their lives and they write songs about it."
Music, Costume/Dress, Festivals/Customs, Play / South / 1973
15 minutes | Read More | Preview

Remembering Emmanuel Church
An oral history of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Fauquier County, Virginia. The storytellers are masters-all of them members of the congregation from the old farming community tradition of Fauquier County. The stories, funny, sad, and scandalous, are memories of friends and family who are dead and buried in the churchyard.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Religion, Rural Life / Middle Atlantic / 2000
37 minutes | Read More | Preview

Remembering The High Lonesome
Profiles filmmaker, photographer, artist, and musician John Cohen. The film examines the birth of a new artistic ethic and counterculture through John Cohen's involvement with the Beat Generation, abstract expressionist painters, and the Folk Music Revival, and it explores the role of an outsider documenting the life and arts of an Appalachian community.
Music, Narrative & Verbal Arts, Folkmusic Revival / Appalachia / 2003
27 minutes | Read More | Preview

The Shakers
THE SHAKERS traces the growth, decline, and continuing survival of this remarkable religious sect through the memories and songs of Shaker sisters in New Hampshire and Maine.
Music, Religion, Women / Northeast / 1974
30 minutes | Read More | Preview

A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle
The story of a gifted African American family from the rural South. With interviews and stories, and scenes from daily life, reunions, gospel concerts, and church services, the film traces the history of the Landis family of Granville County, North Carolina, over the lifetime of its oldest surviving member, 86-year-old Mrs. Bertha M. Landis.
Music, Religion, Women, Family, Aging, African American Culture, Social Justice/Protest / South / 1986
57 minutes | Read More | Preview

Thoughts on Beagling
This video documents the breeding, training and hunting of the beagle, the world's most popular hound, by three passionate beaglers: Clayton Bright, a sculptor of sporting art from the wealthy Brandywine district of Pennsylvania; Roland Baltimore, an African American contractor from Middleburg, Virginia; and Claude Honeycutt, a devoutly religious gun dog man from the mountains of western North Carolina near Asheville.
Play, Rural Life, Sports/Hunting / Middle Atlantic / 1997
32 minutes | Read More | Preview

Thoughts on Fox Hunting
Features the legendary huntsman Melvin Poe and the hounds of the Orange County Hunt near The Plains, Virginia.
Rural Life, Sports/Hunting / Middle Atlantic / 1975
30 minutes | Read More | Preview

When My Work Is Over: The Life and Stories of Miss Louise Anderson, 1921-1994
The gifted African American storyteller Louise Anderson (1921-1994) tells her family stories and folk tales, and recites poetry in this film taped in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in the last years of her life. Her sisters Evelyn Anderson and Dorothy McLeod join Louise in recalling their experiences growing up in the South, working in restaurants and as domestics in white households, and struggling for civil rights in the early 1960s.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Women, Work, Costume/Dress, Aging, African American Culture, Social Justice/Protest / South / 2000
38 minutes | Read More | Preview

Where Do They All Go?
As a teenager, growing up in the mountains of rural northern Virginia, Jerry Payne asked "Animals are dying all the time. Where do they all go?"
Religion, Rural Life, Aging / Appalachia / 2013
42 minutes | Read More | Preview

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