A Brief History of the USDA Motion Picture Service to 1943

  • J. Emmett Winn


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE USDA MOTION PICTURE SERVICE TO 1943 The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) began producing films in the early 1900s and continued for decades. Millions saw these films in a wide variety of venues, including public schools, colleges and universities, civic meeting halls, libraries, church halls, and even open fields. Over the period of several decades, from the silent-movie era through the 1950s, the USDA was a significant government filmmaking organization, touting itself to be not only the first government agency to organize a filmmaking division but also the most prolific. The USDA motion picture branch was internationally respected, and the distribution of its films was high for US government institutions, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. The USDA showed its films practically anywhere extension workers or others could gather a small group or a large crowd. The role of the films varied,...