Collection America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915

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  • Esquimaux leap-frog /

    The film, photographed from a single camera position, shows buildings resembling igloos on ice floes, in front of which persons clothed as Eskimos play a game of leapfrog. From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: SCENE IN THE ESQUIMAUX VILLAGE. Ungulado. [code for telegraphic orders]. This shows several Esquimaux at the game of "Misheetak," or leap frog, which differs somewhat from the civilized game, ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1901
  • Buffalo Bill's Wild West parade /

    The film shows a parade down Fifth Avenue, New York. In the foreground many children, both black and white, can be seen following alongside the parade. The participants in the parade include cowboys, Indians, and soldiers in the uniform of the United States Cavalry on horseback and riding horse-drawn coaches. Buffalo Bill can be seen on horseback, lifting his hat to the crowd.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1902
  • Cleveland fire department /

    The subject is the activities of a fire department that can be seen coming out of the fire engine house located across the street from the camera position. The action must have been a drill or rehearsal as the street is lined with people awaiting the arrival of the three pumpers, the two hook-and-ladder wagons, and the four personnel wagons that made up the ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • New York City "ghetto" fish market /

    The view, photographed from an elevated camera position, looks down on a very crowded New York City street market. Rows of pushcarts and street vendors' vehicles can be seen. The precise location is difficult to ascertain, but it is certainly on the Lower East Side, probably on or near Hester Street, which at the turn of the century was the center of commerce for ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Esquimaux game of snap-the-whip /

    The film, photographed from a single camera position, shows a large tent of animal skins in front of which are two spectators watching two participants perform a game of skill using whips. From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: SCENE IN THE ESQUIMAUX VILLAGE. Ungulado. [code for telegraphic orders]. The picture [shows] a number of Esquimaux picking nickels from cracks in a board with ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1901
  • Sham battle at the Pan-American Exposition /

    Large arches and columns are seen surrounding a flat field. In the foreground of the field, some American Indians on horseback ride toward the camera. The Indians are wearing feathers, war paint, and are carrying frontier rifles across the bare backs of their horses. In the middle of this flat area, men dressed as U.S. Army troops in battle regalia are lined up in ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1901
  • Charleston chain-gang /

    Apparently, the film was photographed from a compound bordered by high walls and buildings. At a distance of fifty yards in the direction that the camera is pointed a column of men can be seen walking backwards and holding a chain under their arms. All the men are dressed the same. Two men carrying shotguns gesture to indicate the chain gang should move. They ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1902
  • Automobile race for the Vanderbilt Cup /

    This automobile race was filmed from many camera positions. Several different types of motor cars from all parts of the world are seen. A series of interconnecting roads was used as the race course.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1904
  • Union Iron Works /

    From Edison films catalog: Here was built the peerless battleship "Oregon." The scene is taken at lunch hour, and shows a great throng of employees leaving the shop. 50 feet. 7.50. Advertised as part of the "Southern Pacific Company Series" (Edison films catalog): The Southern Pacific Company ("Sunset Route") offers special inducements to winter travelers, by reason of its southern route, thereby avoiding the ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1898
  • Clerks casing mail for bags, U.S.P.O. /

    The subject is an operation of mail handling called "casing." The camera was placed so that two men can be seen demonstrating the method. The demonstrators, with stacks of letters in their hands, place them in one of many apertures built into a cabinet or "case."

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Boat race /

    Two standard U.S. Navy eight-oar pulling boats, each commanded by a coxswain at the steering position in the stern, are seen abeam of one another. At a signal, both pulling boats begin moving and it can be seen that the camera was positioned on a vessel following the two competing pulling boats. The camera stays with the two boats until their destination is disclosed ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1904
  • Street mail car, U.S.P.O. /

    The first scene appears to have been taken on a main thoroughfare of large city. In the immediate foreground is a horse-drawn U.S. mail vehicle waiting at the side of a streetcar track. Soon a streetcar approaches the camera position. It stops beside the mail vehicle and the driver unloads mail sacks from the streetcar. He then puts some sacks from his wagon onto ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Indian day school /

    The film was photographed from a single-camera position and shows the doorway of a building with a sign in front indicating it is the Isleta Indian School. Children less than ten years of age come out of the door of the school and pass in front of the camera.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1898
  • Kindergarten ball game /

    A row of approximately twenty-five children under the age of six can be seen facing the camera. They stand in front of a long blackboard with the words "Kansas City, Mo." written on it. As the film continues, the children bounce the balls they have in their hands, then form a circle and march around the bouncing balls.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1904
  • Leonard-Cushing fight /

    From Edison films catalog: An actual six-round contest between Mike Leonard, commonly called the "Beau Brummel" of pugilism, and Jack Cushing. Full of hard fighting, clever hits, punches, leads, dodges, body blows and some slugging. Sold by rounds. Each round contains 150 feet. Price each round, $22.50.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1894
  • Japanese village /

    At the beginning of the film, at a distance of about one-hundred feet, is a two-story building with a balcony, some tropical plants, and a telephone pole. A young Japanese man appears directly in front of the camera. He is accompanied by two small Japanese boys attired in tight knee britches and rather loose sleeved blouses. The three of them exhibit their gymnastic powers ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1901
  • Westinghouse Air Brake Co. Westinghouse works /

    A large group of men are shown performing various tasks in one room at the Westinghouse Air Brake Co. On one side, men are shown pouring a hot liquid into molds on the floor. A conveyor belt delivers items which are then taken off the belt by a man. Men on the other side of the screen appear to be lifting items out of ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1904
  • Lurline Baths /

    "A large indoor swimming pool can be seen. The camera was directed toward a slide from which people can be seen entering the pool in rapid succession"--Early motion pictures. "At San Francisco. The main feature is the toboggan slide which the bathers use, some sitting, others lying down, head first or feet first. 50 feet"--Edison films catalog.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1897
  • Sleighing scene /

    A view of a snow-covered road in Central Park. A variety of horse-drawn sleighs ride by the camera from both directions. Only two pedestrians appear. From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: SLEIGHING SCENE. Unbehangen [code for telegraphic orders]. A view taken on the West Side Drive in Central Park. Shows a continuous stream of handsome rigs and turnouts passing in both directions. Pedestrians ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1898
  • Girls winding armatures /

    Numerous women sit in rows at machines where they appear to be winding some type of wire and tooling it onto machines. Two young men push spools of this wire down the aisle. Supervisors, male and female, walk down the aisle and observe the women's work, stopping for a while at one woman's station.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1904
  • Swimming pool, Palm Beach /

    The film, photographed from a single-camera position, shows a swimming pool with a white building on the far side. Several persons in bathing suits dive into the water from a springboard, as well as from the balcony above.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1905
  • Hyde Park School, room 2 /

    Four rows of pre-adolescent children, both boys and girls, are standing in front of a blackboard on which the words "Kansas City, Missouri" can be seen. Each boy and girl has a pair of Indian clubs and for the extent of the film the group demonstrates in unison different exercises, using the clubs.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1904
  • Drill by Providence police /

    "In the center of a town square, a company of uniformed policemen equipped with nightsticks is standing at attention. The policemen execute several close-order drill maneuvers similar to those of any army infantry company. They end as they began, company front"--Early motion pictures.

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Carriers leaving building, U.S.P.O. [Version 2] /

    Male letter carriers of the U.S. Post Office are the subject of this series on the Postal Department. The camera was placed to show a large number of uniformed mail carriers as they leave the main post office to deliver letters. They can be seen walking down the steps of the building toward the camera position. Some mount bicycles and ride away, while others ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • The ball game /

    Photographed from one camera position behind home plate, the film shows a baseball game in progress. The Reading pitcher has just let a Newark batter walk to first. He gets up on his toes, ready to head for second base. The next batter up cracks first ball pitched for a two bagger, and races for the base with a burst of speed. The first ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1898