Memory  /  Oral History

Interviews With Elderly People in 1929

The footage offers a riveting account of American history, in the voices of those who lived it.

‘I hope, ladies and gentlemen, you have seen me and you have also heard me.’

The iconic Fox Movietone News, which ran in the United States from 1927 to 1963, was one of the first newsreels to marry moving pictures and sound. Pieced together from Movietone News footage made available by the Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina, this short film features interviews with elderly people across the US shot in 1929. The (notably all-white) interviewees include the 94-year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton, the avowed racist and one-time slave-owner who served as the first female US senator when she was appointed for a single day in 1922; several Civil War veterans; and a longtime train conductor on his very last run. The result is by turns a charming, jarring and surprising window into US history and a not-so-distant past when the interviewees were distinctly aware of what they perceived to be the gravity of recounting their stories.