Within Our Gates, a silent race film from 1920, by the Oscar Micheaux Production Company.

New digital project out of UCLA:

“We are a group of undergraduate and graduate students in the Digital Humanities program at the University of California, Los Angeles. This main goal of this project was to collaboratively create a database on early African-American silent race films by drawing together information in a wide range of primary and secondary sources. For the purpose of this project, we determined that we would only include silent films created before 1930 for African-American audiences. This definition was the main factor that informed our decisions to include or exclude pieces of data. (You can read more about how we arrived at our definition here.)

“The database we have created contains information on films, actors, production companies, and other aspects of early silent-era African American race films. The database is intended to allow the public to learn about this period in film history that is too rarely discussed.

“As we compiled the database, we began to see connections within our dataset. We created data visualizations based on these connections in an attempt to give the audience a more complete understanding of the complexity of this early African-American film industry. It is our hope that individuals will be able to utilize this database for their own research on this topic.  We have targeted our database towards scholarly research. However, we hope that the information within this project is accessible to a wide range of audiences who are interested in the early African American film industry.

“We have structured our dataset so that it is free to use by individuals for their own research and knowledge.  Each data visualization we have included is accompanied by the specific data used and step by step instructions on how to create similar visualizations.We hope that this project increases interest in this part of history that is too rarely discussed.  The early African-American film industry gives us insight into multiple facets of history, and it is our hope that this project will prompt others continue to explore its significance.”

Explore it all: About the Project – EARLY AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM


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