Guide to the H. Lee Waters Film Collection, 1936-2005, bulk 1936-1942
Born in Caroleen, North Carolina in 1902, studio photographer Herbert Lee Waters supplemented his income from 1936 to 1942 by traveling across North Carolina and parts of Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina to film the people of small communities. He collaborated with local movie theaters to screen his films, which he called Movies of Local People. As a filmmaker, Waters produced 252 films across 118 communities. The H. Lee Waters Film Collection dates from 1936 to 2005 and primarily comprises 16 mm black and white reversal original motion picture films created by Waters during the filming of the Movies of Local People series. The collection, arranged alphabetically by town name, also includes various preservation elements created from the original footage: 16 mm internegatives; 16 mm screening prints; 3/4 inch Umatic, Betacam SP, and Digital Betacam preservation tape masters; and VHS and DVD use copies of Waters' works. The collection contains a small number of papers and physical objects related to Waters' film making, including: a photocopy of two log books (encompassed in one volume) maintained by Waters to record financial and business information during the filming of Movies of Local People; photocopied and original advertisements for screenings of Waters' films; photocopies of Waters' notes, receipts, and correspondence concerning film sales; related ephemera; and a copy of a 2005 master's thesis written on the films of H. Lee Waters.
- H. Lee Waters Film collection
- Waters, H. Lee
- 50.0 linear feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
The H. Lee Waters Film Collection dates from 1936 to 2005 and comprises primarily 16 mm black and white reversal original motion picture films created by Waters between 1936 and 1942 as he traveled across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia filming the residents of small towns. Waters aimed to film as many residents in each community as possible, often setting up his camera at the main intersection in town to capture community members walking downtown. Waters also typically filmed school children entering or leaving school and workers arriving to or departing from mills, plants, and factories. Waters often included trick shots to engage his audience, such as trains moving backwards or children jumping in reverse. Although the films are dominated by shots of crowds and individual faces, Waters also captured a wide variety of activities, like school recitals, sports, mechanics at work, and manufacturing processes in factories.
The collection, arranged alphabetically by town name, includes various preservation elements created from the original footage: 16 mm internegatives; 16 mm screening prints; 3/4 inch Umatic, Betacam SP, and Digital Betacam preservation tape masters; and VHS and DVD use copies of Waters' works. The majority of films represented in the collection are silent, black and white, and were filmed in North Carolina. The collection includes a small number of color films and one film with sound. Reels containing mixed black and white and color footage were separated into two reels based on picture characteristic during the preservation process.
The collection also contains a small number of papers and physical objects related to Waters, including: photocopied and original advertisements for screenings of Waters' films; photocopies of Waters' notes, receipts, and correspondence concerning film sales; related ephemera; VHS copies of a news report and a film on Waters; and a copy of the master's thesis written on the films of H. Lee Waters by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Martin Johnson in 2005. In addition, the collection contains a photocopy of two log books (encompassed in one volume) maintained by Waters between the years of 1936 and 1942 to document his earnings from the Movies of Local People films. The logs provide information about film screenings in the towns that he visited, including the dates of the screenings, the theaters where the films played, admission prices, the number of tickets sold, and advertising revenues. Printed copies of shot lists, created by a student intern, are included in the collection. The detailed description of the collection indicates if shot lists are available for a particular film.
Collection is open for research. However, original audiovisual materials are CLOSED to patron use. Use copies are available in the collection.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Screening Date: 1936 August 20-21. Screening Theatre: Stanley Theatre. Original film in State Archive, print at Stanly County Public Library, Albemarle, NC (as of 1987).
Screening Date: 1939 February 06-07. Screening Theatre: Capitol Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 February 05-06. Screening Theatre: Capitol Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1941 January 13-14; 1941 December 01-02. Screening Theatre: Capitol Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1940 February 05-06; 1941 January 13-14. Screening Theatre: Capitol Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1938 January 31-February 01; 1939 February 06-07; 1940 February 05-06; 1941 January 13-14; 1941 December 01-02. Screening Theatre: Capitol Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 March 16. Screening Theatre: Benson Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 October 02-03. Screening Theatre: Cliffside Theatre. Originally part of the 1940 Cliffside reel.
Screening Date: 1939 October 06-07. Screening Theatre: Hollywood Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 February. Screening Theatre: Wades Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 August 04. Screening Theatre: Cliffside Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 October 02-03. Screening Theatre: Cliffside Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1938 October 10-11; 1939 April 24-25. Screening Theatre: Midway Theatre. Original footage was 16 mm, si., b&w, (1200 ft.)
Screening Date: 1940 December 04-05. Screening Theatre: State Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 December 13-14. Screening Theatre: Dante Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 March 06-07. Screening Theatre: Virginia Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1939 December 04-05; 1941 February 03-04. Screening Theatre: Anchor Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 March 11-12. Screening Theatre: Wade's Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 July 01-02. Screening Theatre: Carolina Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 May 01-02. Screening Theatre: Carolina Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 September 23-24. Screening Theatre: Carolina Theatre.
Screening Date: 1942 April 20-21. Screening Theatre: Carolina Theatre.
Screening Date: 1938 November 28-29. Screening Theatre: Lyric Theatre.
Screening Dates: 1941 November 10-11; 1942 June 22-23. Screening Theatre: Main Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 July 17-18. Screening Theatre: Center Theatre.
Screening Date: 1938 September 15-16. Screening Theatre: Stevenson Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 September 14-15. Screening Theatre: Jackson Theatre. Includes footage of Seaboard, Conway, Lasker, and Weldon.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1941 February 06-07; 1941 October 01-02. Screening Theatre: Dixie Theatre and Palace Theatre (1941 February); Swanee Theatre (1941 October).
Screened on one of the following dates: 1936 July 30-31; 1936 September 09; 1938 May 12-13; 1940 August 29-30; 1941 February 06-07; 1941 October 01-02. Screened at one of the following theatres: Y.M.C.A. Theatre (1936); Colonial Theatre (1938); Dixie Theatre and Palace Theatre (1940, 1941 February);Swanee Theatre (1941 October).
Screening Date: 1940 October 14-15. Screening Theatre: Russell Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 April 28-30. Screening Theatre: Avon Theatre.
Screening Date: 1938 May 05-06. Screening Theatre: Lexington High School.
Screening Date: 1938 May 05-06. Screening Theatre: Lexington High School.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1936 September 25-26; 1939 December 11-12. Screening Theatre: Curtis Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 September 21-22. Screening Theatre: Lyric Theatre.
Screening Date: 1937 January 14-15. Screening Theatre: unknown.
Screening Date: 1940 April 29-30. Screening Theatre: Patovi Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1939 January 05-06; 1939 March 23-24; 1940 April 29-30; 1941 September 29-30; 1941 December 15-16. Screening Theatre: Patovi Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1937 December 01-02; 1939 February 01-02. Screening Theatre: National Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1937 August 12-13; 1938 June 23-24; 1939 August 21-22. Screening Theatre: Carolina Theatre.
Screening Date: 1941 October 08-09. Screening Theatre: Center Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1937 January 04-05; 1938 November 07-09; 1939 June 05-06; 1941 March 03-04; 1941 October 13-14. Screened at one of the following theatres: Liberty Theatre (1937); New Orpheum Theatre (1938-1939); Allen Theatre(1941).
Screened on one of the following dates: 1938 August 17-18; 1938 October 05-06; 1939 November 01-02; 1941 April 03-04. Screened at one of the following theatres: Carolina Theatre (1938-1939); Orpheum Theatre (1941).
Screening Date: 1939 May 15-16. Screening Theatre: Pilot Theatre.
Screening Date: 1938 April 21-22. Screening Theatre: unknown.
Screening Date: unknown. Screening Theatre: unknown.
Screening Date: 1937 March 01-02. Screening Theatre: Dolley Madison Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1936 November 16-17; 1937 March 01-02. Screening Theatre: Dolley Madison Theatre.
Screening Date: 1938 September 08-09. Screening Theatre: Dolley Madison Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 July 13-14. Screening Theatre: Dolley Madison Theatre and Palace Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 July 11-12. Screening Theatre: Palace Theatre.
Screening Date: 1941 May 01-02. Screening Theatre: Dolley Madison Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1936 November 16-17; 1937 March 01-02; 1938 September 08-09; 1939 July 13-14; 1940 July 11-12; 1941 May 01-02. Screened at one of the following theatres: Dolley Madison Theatre (1936-1938, 1941); Dolley Madison Theatre and Palace Theatre(1939); Palace Theatre (1940).
Screening Date: 1937 June 28-29. Screening Theatre: unknown.
Screening Date: 1940 November 11-12. Screening Theatre: State Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 November 20-21. Screening Theatre: Dixie Theatre.
Screening Dates: 1937 May 06-07; 1939 November 15-16; 1941 March 20-21; 1942 March 23-24. Screening Theatres: Gem Theatre (1937); Elder Theatre (1939-1942). Contains footage from multiple Waters films shot between 1937 and 1942.
Source: Milo Holt
Screening Date: 1937 June 07-08. Screening Theatres: Howell Theatre (Smithfield, June 07) and Selma Theatre (Selma, June 08).
Screening Date: 1937 July 22-23. Screening Theatre: Carolina Theatre.
Screening Date: 1940 November 25-27. Screening Theatre: State Theatre.
Screening Date: 1938 October 24-25. Screening Theatre: Lyric Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 June 29-30. Screening Theatre: Palace Theatre.
Screening Date: 1939 January 25-26. Screening Theatre: State Theatre.
Screened on one of the following dates: 1936 August 06-07; 1937 November 24-25; 1939 January 25-26; 1940 February 12-13. Screened at one of the following theatres: Palace Theatre (1936, 1940); State Theatre (1937-1939).
Screened on one of the following dates: 1936 December 07-08; 1938 January 06-07; 1939 January 30-31; 1940 May 08-09. Screening Theatre: Troy Theatre (1938-1940). Includes footage of Star, Biscoe, Candor, and Mt. Gilead.
Screening Date: 1939 February 20-21. Screening Theatre: Strand Theatre.
Screening Date: 1936 December 04. Screening Theatre: unknown.
Screening Date: 1939 April 28-29. Screening Theatre: Wythe Theatre.
Trailer for bringing Movies of Local People back to their local theaters in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
Born August 23, 1902, Herbert Lee Waters spent the majority of his life in Lexington, North Carolina operating a photography studio. Waters supplemented his income from 1936-1942 by traveling across North Carolina and parts of Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina to film the people of small communities. He collaborated with local movie theaters to screen his films, which he called Movies of Local People and billed with the phrase "See yourself in the movies!" As a filmmaker, Waters produced 252 films across 118 communities. In 1942, Waters returned to Lexington and continued operating his photographic studio until his death in 1997. The Library of Congress listed Waters' Kannapolis film on the National Film Registry in 2004.
[Identification of item], H. Lee Waters Film Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The H. Lee Waters Film Collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a series of gifts and purchases beginning in 1988.
Processed and re-encoded by Craig Breaden, April 2014.
Processed by Lindsay Matson, October 2009