Indiana University in Bloomington has received the donation of the archives of Mary Perry Smith, the co-founder of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. The collection contains more than 300 linear feet of documents, audio-visual materials, publications, and memorabilia.
The collection includes the original grave marker for Oscar Micheaux, who in 1919 was the first African American to produce a full-length motion picture. Other unique items include costumes worn by Ruby Dee, original scores by Phil Moore, the first African American composer hired to the staff of a major movie studio, and an oil painting of Madame Sul-Te-Wan, an early twentieth-century actress who was the daughter of former slaves.
Brian Graney, of the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University, said “the collection is a treasure. It illuminates the Black presence in film history and adds to our historical understanding of the growth of Black filmmaking.”