Some Oklahoma History Rediscovered

Thursday, September 21st 2006, 10:10 am
By: News On 6

An Oklahoma treasure hunter has uncovered a priceless piece of Oklahoma history.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood explains how this historic find is revealing some of history's forgotten faces.

The film is 80 years old. It's now been copied from an old film reel onto videotape after being discovered by an Oklahoma historian.

What makes this footage special isn't just what's on the film, but who's running the camera. Currie Ballard found 29 reels with movies made by a black traveling Baptist minister.

The films document the lives of black Oklahomans in the years after the Tulsa Race Riots. There are very few "home movies" from the 1920s, and most were of white families, shot by white cameramen. The minister's movies show prosperous black families living in Guthrie, Langston and Muskogee.

The historian who found the footage says it's an important testament to the resiliency of Oklahoma's black communities.

Ballard has only seen two of the 29 reels and can't imagine what other priceless footage they contain. Just converting the old film to watchable video cost Ballard $600 for two reels. That's on top of the money he paid to buy them.