Oklahoma History Center
Reverend S.S. Jones & His Films
Currie Ballard, historian and collector, acquired 29 reels of 16mm film in 2006.  The reels were found in an attic, probably stored there for decades.  He purchased them not knowing if they had weathered the years, but he knew the importance of them if they survived.  The films were made by Reverend S.S. Jones between 1924 and 1928.  Ballard said, "What these films depict is an America that one man, Reverend Jones, had the foresight to say this is worth investing in and this is worth telling."  Jones filmed most of the African American communities in Oklahoma. 

The collection is preserved at Yale University in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, but digitized copies are available for viewing online, and at the Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division Library. The moving camera that Reverend Jones used is on display here, along with more information about Reverend S.S. Jones.

Ballard earned a Bachelor of Arts from Langston University, and was the Historian-in-Residence from 1993 through 2006. Some of his accomplishments and honors include induction into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame, appointment by President George W. Bush to build an African American Museum in Washington D.C., Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Assistant Secretary of the Oklahoma State Senate.  Interestingly, his passion for history comes from his family who were brought to Oklahoma as slaves of the Choctaw Indians, and being a descendent of the two slaves, Wallace and Minerva Willis, who wrote "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." 

View videos online at the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library website.