Before television came along, news reels were a vital way for Americans to be kept abreast of important news and events and, unlike radio, news reels could use the magic of film to illustrate their stories. One of the great purveyors of news reels was Fox Movietone. This Movietone installment, from 1928, was chosen for the Registry not only to represent this vital type of information sharing and documentation but also to further celebrate the remarkable, sweet sound and fascinating story of a some very young but very talented South Carolinian musicians.
In an essay, author Julie Hubbert wrote about this film and about its behind-the-scenes story:
“In 1891, the Reverend Daniel Jenkins, pastor of a small African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, stumbled on a group of four black youths huddled in an abandoned building on the edge of town. The boys were all under the age of twelve, Jenkins discovered, and were all orphans. Their plight had special meaning to Jenkins. Born a slave on a plantation just outside of Charleston, Jenkins himself had been orphaned at a young age and had been turned off the plantation. He immediately took the orphans in with the resolve of establishing something Charleston did not have–an orphanage for African-American children. In an impassioned speech before the Charleston city council Jenkins promised that if the city would allow him to use the abandoned warehouse next to the prison on the waterfront, he would rid the city of its ‘roaming, thieving wild children.’ With their agreement and a small stipend of $100, the Rever-end Daniel Jenkins Orphanage was born.”
Title: “Fox Movietone News: Jenkins Orphanage Band”
Year of Release: 1928
Year Added to the National Film Registry: 2003 (See all films added to the Registry in 2003)
This blog post is the 15th installment in our “30 Years of the National Film Registry” series which was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Registry. The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation. The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced on December 12, 2018.