A very good Friend of Unfair Park found this old newspaper cutout here. It's an ad from the October 4, 1911, issue of the Dallas Times Herald, and, as you can see, it promises quite the something special -- then, certainly, and now most definitely. Our Friend, a history buff hoping for a miracle a la, asked if we'd ask around. Sure. And so I placed a call to Elizabeth Hansen, Outreach and Education Coordinator at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image.
Hansen said at first that she wasn't even sure it's accurate; there had been accounts of earlier footage made by others. Then she sent this note, along with a follow-up to the ad that you will find after the jump that details precisely what was screened:
I double-checked my research files and found an article from 10/8/1911 that I have attached. This is the only other specific early reference I can find to early films made of Dallas. I did have an article in my Dallas file that said they were considering making films of the State Fair in 1908, but there is nothing to confirm this actually happened.
Now, jump for the October 8 recap and probably way more than you wanted to know about the man who made the movie. Not to mention a 105-year-old photo of Teddy Roosevelt in Fort Worth. So there's that.
Ah. Henry Clogenson.
That explains everything. Well, this does, anyway -- a spring 1989 piece in Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas titled "Dallas Then," which recounts and revisits the work of the French-born photographer who worked in Mineral Wells before coming to Dallas in 1900. (As it turns out, much of the research was done by Friend of Unfair Park PeterK during his tenure at the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division.) Clogenson would go on to work for The Dallas Morning News before his death at his home on Travis Steet in the early 1920s.
Clogenson took perhaps some of the most iconic photos of Dallas's landmarks long ago: White Rock Lake, the State Fair of Texas and, as you no doubt recall, the Trinity River during the flood of 1908. As a matter of fact, 10 of his photos of North Texas are accessible through the Library of Congress's website. Among them you will find this photo of Theodore Roosevelt greeting soldiers in Fort Worth on April 8, 1905, where he delivered this speech.
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As for that first film, it more than likely does not exist. As City Archivist John Slate writes us this morning:
I have heard of this footage, but I seriously doubt it exists. It would have been on nitrocellulose film stock and probably turned to powder long ago. Also, since it was probably made by amateurs and not a studio (with the storage resources), that compounds the likelihood that it did not survive.
He then directs our attention to his piece on the Texas film industry for the Texas State Historical Association's "digital gateway" to the past. Which isn't to say the film doesn't exist. It's just, ya know, doubtful.
Now, any more questions?