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Wayne Morse : Use of Force

9 Sep

Rachel Maddow recently gave a shout-out to Oregon Senator Wayne Morse (1900-1974), who was the lone voice of dissent when President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Congress to approve military action against Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Morse was later joined by Sen. Ernest Gruening of Alaska in voting against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which dramatically escalated the United States’ involvement in the war in Southeast Asia.

Maddow referenced Morse in light of the current debate in Congress over the use of force in Syria, and for his courage in saying no and voting to uphold the Constitution as he saw it, in the face of seemingly unified support to do otherwise. I confess I puddled up when I heard the piece (as a podcast), probably because of the whole Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-ness of it, the solitary man of principle facing down the corrupt government machine. And he was from Oregon! But also because I’ve started to inventory his films. Morse bequeathed his papers to the University of Oregon Libraries and the collection is our largest–1300 linear feet. Included in all of that are many, many boxes of film, all of which has remained unprocessed and unknown for 40 years since we got the collection.  I am particularly fascinated by the films of Morse speaking to directly to constituents from behind a desk in the Senate Recording Office. Presumably these films were sent home to Oregon to screen at clubs and meetings to let folks know what he was up to. In the days before public access television and certainly youtube, these films tell an interesting story about how Congress communicated with voters in the mid-20th century.

An intrepid filmmaker from Oregon Public Broadcasting picked through some of it to make a documentary about Morse, but most of it is a mystery. We don’t even know how many there are. Thanks to a grant from the Morse Center for Law and Politics here on campus, I can hire a student to help me describe it and do basic preservation work.


Duty to Cargo revisited

18 Jul

Thanks once again to the request of a far-flung researcher who requested a copy of the one existing print of this film in the University of Oregon’s 16mm collection, Duty to Cargo (c1939) is now available online. This is one of those orphan films that is not all that compelling to watch, but all the contextual information around it makes it very interesting.


The thorough Iris Bull documented it elsewhere on this blog, but it’s also worth noting that the film was produced in Cosmocolor, a process developed in 1938 by the industrial film company Wilding Picture Productions, and described in more technical detail in Business Screen. Cosmocolor was Wilding’s solution to bringing down the cost of producing industrial films in color. “Commercial producers have been holding a finger on the pulse of American advertisers long enough to realize that it doesn’t take much argument to convince potential clients of the advantages of color in advertising films…something had to be done to bring color to a point where it could as readily be used as black and white from the viewpoint of cost, mobility and production.” I don’t know enough about the use of color in advertising and industrial films from the 1930s to know how many were produced in color at this time, but 1939 was still relatively early for the use of color in motion pictures in any genre.

More Wilding films are available courtesy of the Prelinger Archives on the Internet Archive. Other Wilding titles I’d love to see: The Cheese Family Album (1949), Knucklehead (also from 1949, “a training film for service station owners and attendants”), and Time for Living (1949), which features “a demonstration of modern laundry service.”

Nepal: Experiment in Education revisited

14 Mar

Thanks in part to a visiting researcher, I recently discovered a forgotten box of outtakes, extras, and B-roll from Nepal: Experiment in Education, a documentary about a program to establish a system of higher education in Nepal in the 1950s. The project was led by Hugh B. Wood, a professor of education at the University of Oregon. Lots to discover here, but first I had to prep the reels for the Moviscop. Outtakes and extras means lots of bad splices with 60-year-old masking tape, some reels had over 40 splices on a 200-ft roll.

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The Neumade splicer is a workhorse.

Sallie, 1893-1974 (1975)

7 Jun
Director  Bill Maddron
Producer Portland, Or. : Continuing Education Film Library
Contributors Jan Marie Maddron, Sallie McGinnis and family
Length  54 min
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description:   Records details of an actual non-traditional, life-centered funeral as it happened. For use in gerontology, psychology, health education and death and dying courses and by funeral directors and counselors
Call # Md65
Genre Documentary
Rare YES
Online NO
Copyright status Copyrighted
Physical condition  Fair
Oregon-related  YES


The funeral filmed for this documentary was for Sallie McGinnis in 1974.  The film was released and copyrighted in 1975 and simply documents her funeral, which took place at the Buell Chapel in Springfield, OR (right next to Eugene, OR where our university, The University of Oregon is).

I found a couple advertisements for Buell Chapel and their life-centered funeral services in the Eugene Register-Guard from October 15, 1974 and March 4, 1975 (the same time period as when the film was made).  These adverts showcase the fact that the life-centered service is one that is not required to be conventional and that is able to flexibly fit any wants of any customer.

Right Wing Machine (1978)

20 Mar
Director  Uncredited
Producer  Maurer, Fleisher, Zon & Anderson, Inc.
Contributors  AFL-CIO Committe on Political Education
Length  23 minutes
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description:  This relates the growing threat of right wing political activity aimed at defeating labor’s friends in Congress and at other levels of government and replacing them with anti-worker ultra-conservatives. It describes the tactics and techniques of politically active right wing groups
Call #  FILM MB296
Genre  Political Film
Rare  Yes
Online  Yes, partially
Copyright status  Public Domain
Physical condition  Fair
Oregon-related  No


This is a pro-union film distributed by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.  Animated segments mixed with live shots of an imposing and deep voiced narrator to deliver what the producers considered critical information about the right-wing political group and how it conducts its business.

The film is full of scathing criticism, sometimes bordering on mockery, of the right-wing, including a look inside their “propaganda workshops” where large punch-card operated computers (brand new at the time) process information about the voting public.

Controlling Interest (1978)

16 Mar
Director  Larry Adelman
Producer  Larry Adelman
Contributors  California Newsreel
Length  45 Minutes
B&W/Color  B&W
UO Library Catalog description:  Shows how multinationals combine capital, technological know-how, and low wages in underdeveloped countries to maximize profits at the expense of the American worker and consumer
Call #  Md77
Genre  Educational
Rare  No
Online  No
Copyright status  No
Physical condition  Fair
Oregon-related  No


Larry Adelman is the co-director and head producer of the California Newsreel, the countries oldest documentary production and distribution center.

Tokyo: World’s Safest City (1977)

16 Mar
Director  NA
Producer  United States-Japan Trade Council
Contributors  Gordon Newsfilms + Audio Visual Production
Length  27 Minutes
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description:  Explains why Tokyo, one of the world’s largest cities, is also the safest
Call #  Mc171
Genre  Educational
Rare  Yes
Online  No
Copyright status  No
Physical condition  Poor
Oregon-related  No


The United States-Japan Trade Council was an organization meant to increase knowledge about Japan. They have released numerous reports in various media about the subject.

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