George C. Stoney Papers, 1940-2009

Creator: Stoney, George C.
Collection number: 4970
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Abstract: George C. Stoney (1916- ), a documentary filmmaker who specialized in socially relevant films, was a mentor and teacher to generations of filmmakers and media activists worldwide and a pioneer in the movement for the creation and use of public access television to enact social change. The collection consists of papers chiefly relating to George C. Stoney’s professional work as a documentary filmmaker, teacher, and early advocate of public access television. Correspondence, 1944-1993 (bulk 1960-1990), is chiefly work-related in content, though many of Stoney’s correspondents were long-time friends and colleagues and wrote personally as well. Letters, 1944-1945, from Stoney to his future wife, Mary Bruce (1926-2004), are chiefly personal in nature and include love letters, but also, to a lesser extent, describe Stoney’s experiences as a photo intelligence officer with the 8th United States Army Air Forces in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. Correspondence between Stoney and his long-time companion Betty Puleston (d. 2009), 1967-1968, also blend description of personal and working life. Subject files comprise the bulk of the collection and include materials relating to films Stoney wrote, directed, and/or produced for the Southern Educational Film Production Service and George C. Stoney Associates. Topics include sexually transmitted disease; outreach programs of the Methodist Church; cardiovascular healthcare; education; community mental health; race relations in the South; police training; old age and retirement; midwifery; urban redevelopment in New York, N.Y., Philadelphia, Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Washington, D.C.; and other social issues. Some of Stoney’s early work as a journalist and social researcher is also documented in essays, a report on race relations in Mississippi, and materials relating to his work for the Farm Security Administration. Subject files also document classes and workshops Stoney taught, especially at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and his involvement with the growth of public access and local cable television, the Challenge for Change project of the National Film Board of Canada, the Alternate Media Center, and the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers. Additionally, there are film treatments and research materials for prospective projects and printed and other material relating to the documentary film and cable television industries. Loose papers, 1980-1990s, consist of memobooks that likely relate to Stoney’s filmmaking, and clippings, reports, readings, conference advertisements, miscellaneous printed materials, handwritten notes, and writings by others that are not clearly connected to his film projects or cable and public access advocacy work. Photographs depict the documentary filmmaking process for several of Stoney’s films, public access projects and the Alternate Media Center, the work of Farm Security Administration photographers in the South in the early 1940s, and Stoney’s family life. The audio-visual materials consist of films, tapes, and sound reels from various Stoney productions, 1950s-1990s.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Folder 675 contains some of Stoney’s work as a Southern field assistant for Gunner Myrdal’s study on race relations in the U.S., An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.

There are a number of Subject Files that relate to Stoney’s research for Myrdal’s study as well as many of Stoney’s own films. There are several that deal with race relations and various topics:Folder 162 (Auburn, Ala./Race Relations and the Methodist Church, 1963); Folder 214 (Brewster Methodist Hospital (Jacksonville, Fla.)/Race Relations and the Methodist Church, 1963); Folder 216 (Bunche, Ralph: Political Status of the Negro in the Age of FDR (1973)); Folders 625-626 (Kytle, Calvin, 1947, 1960, 1973 – materials related to anti-discrimination protests and land use); Folder 666-667 (Methodist Church 1962– Chiefly concerning “The Church and the Inner City”); Folders 752-760 (Newspaper Clippings, 1960s-1980s – dealing with issues such as segregation, race relations, and Christianity)

Several of Stoney’s films also discuss the African American community and various topics. Notable documentaries include All My Babies and The Shepard of the Night Flock

All My Babies (1953) was an award winning film that focuses on An African American midwife. Folder 101-113, 671-672, 887,  contains articles, correspondence, and other materials related to the film. Folder PF-4970/1-3 contain photographs related to the film. There is a copy of the film as well (Film F-4970/203).

The Shepard of the Night Flock (1975) is a documentary discussing the life of Father Joseph Gensel and his role ministering to the Jazz community in New York. Influential musicians such as Duke Ellington appear in this film. There is a Reference folder (between Folders 972 and 973) for this film. Subseries 5.2 contains numerous clips and edits from the feature film, as well as audio tapes of the performances featured in the film.