Guide to the Paul Duncan Film Collection

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0827
Creators:
Duncan, James T.
Duncan, Paul
Dates:
1937-1941
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.5 Cubic feet
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Filmed entirely on location at the W. Clark McMillen Farm in Atlantic, Pennsylvania, the Paul Duncan Film Collection documents three types of now obsolete farming practices using draft horses and manual labor: making hay (1937), threshing wheat (1939), and cradling & flailing (1941). The film is 8mm, black and white and color. Edge codes date from 1926, 1932, and 1934-35.

Arrangement
Arrangement
Collection arranged into one series.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Between 1937 and 1941, amateur film maker, Paul Jasper Duncan (1899-1986), documented non-mechanized farming practices in the eastern Pennsylvania region where he had grown up. Duncan was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania on March 21, 1899. He was the son of Raymond and Nellie Thayer Duncan. Duncan's maternal grandfather, Charles F. Thayer (1848-1933), lived in nearby Atlantic next to the W. Clark McMillen farm. In 1901, Myrna K. Thayer, one of Duncan's maternal aunts, married W. Clark McMillen. Clark McMillen was a full-time farmer. About 1918, Raymond Duncan and his family moved to Atlantic and lived in the Thayer home next door to the McMillen farm. During his youth, Duncan worked on the McMillen farm when labor was needed and when he needed to earn some money but he never had any interest in becoming a farmer. Duncan graduated from Meadville High School in 1919.
Duncan attended Pennsylvania State University for a year studying mechanical engineering. He returned to Meadville taking a job as a teacher for manual training (shop, woodworking, etc.). He married Alice Driver but within a month she died of "milk fever". Duncan returned to Penn State completing one more year toward a degree before moving to Chicago in the fall of 1922. He married Gertrude Glover in 1924 and in the fall of 1938 they moved to Des Plaines, Illinois. They had two children: Margaret (b. 1929) and James (b. 1932). Duncan worked as a mechanical design engineer for the Universal Oil Company and the Ludlow Typograph Company.
In 1937, Duncan purchased an 8mm movie camera. He had an interest in still photography and this interest extended to motion pictures. During summer family trips to Atlantic in 1937, 1939 and 1941 Duncan documented three farming practices on the McMillen farm: making hay (1937), threshing wheat (1941), and cradling and flailing (1941). During this time the farm was being worked by McMillen and his son-in-law Roy Ferrin (d. 1945). With the exception of cradling and flailing, the farm work was not staged and coincided with the Duncan family visits to Atlantic. At the time that Duncan filmed cradling and flailing the wheat had been cut, so McMillen is seen cutting and binding sheaves of oats instead. In addition to McMillen, Ferrin and Duncan's nephew Neil Duncan are seen in the films.
After retiring from the Ludlow Typographic Company in 1968, Duncan and his wife moved to Dos Cabezas, Cochise County, Arizona. He died in 1986.

Administration
Processing Information
processed by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., January 2005
Author
Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian by James T. Duncan, son of Paul J. Duncan, in November 2002.

Abbreviations
Abbreviations
OF = Original Film
RV = Reference Video
MV = Master Video

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Paul Duncan Film Collection, 1937-1941, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
The Robinson-Via Family Papers, 1845-2000 (AC0475)
The William C. Kost Farm Records, 1939-1989 (AC0481)

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Agriculture -- Pennsylvania Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Draft horses Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Agricultural machinery Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Farmers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Farm equipment Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 1930-1950 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harvesting -- Pennsylvania Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McMillen, Clark Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives