Biographical / Historical
Harry Wright was born in Bedford, Virginia in 1876. Following the death of his father, Wright began working for the Joseph Iron and Equipment Co. and was sent by the company to Mexico in 1900. His brother, Samuel Bolling, joined him in 1902 and the two started their own Foundry "La Consolidada S.A." which made both brothers millionaires within five years. Wright developed a passion for filmmaking, becoming a founding member and president of the Cinema Club de México, in 1937. Wright built his own private projection room in Mexico City, the "Kraal Theatre" which held a collection of more than two thousand films and became a meeting place for amateur filmmakers.
In the late 1930s, Wright hired photographer Edwin Forgan Myers to travel to indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Pueblo and Hidalgo to shoot material for sixteen travelogues. Myers, born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1901, arrived in Mexico in 1932 and held the position of "Sports Director" at the Mexico City Country Club between 1933 and 1938. Financed by Wright, Myers travelled through some of the most remote and inaccessible regions of Mexico with the purpose of "preserving for posterity the customs, dances, religious ceremonies, and the life of these little-known Indian tribes, before they totally disappear." The travelogues were shot in 16mm and organized into two series: The Harry Wright Ethnographic Series: Indian Tribes of Unknown Mexico and Harry Wright's Mexican Indian Series. Wright added audio to the films in a specialized studio between 1941 and 1943 and would screen the shorts at his Kraal Theater in the early 1940s.
Harry Wright's collection of films was eventually purchased by the Library of Congress from Ruth B. Wright, the widow of Harry Wright's nephew, Harry Wright Conger. A second collection of Wright's films from Mexico, formerly in the possession of Edwin Myers, was gifted to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation by Mildred Walter, in 1974.
Acosta, Magdalena. "Indian Tribes of Unknown Mexico una serie etnográfica pionera," El ojo que piensa. Revista de cine iberoamericano Núm. 13 (Julio/Diciembre 2016).
Arrendondo, Isabel. "Telling Stories About Unknown People in Faraway Countries: US Travelogues About Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s," Storytelling in World Cinemas, Volume 2. Columbia University Press, 2013.