1924 Silent Films from the Yale University Press

The following post was authored by Michael Lotstein, University Archivist, Manuscripts and Archives.

Image of volumes of the Chronicles of America volumes

Chronicles of America volumes published by Yale University Press. Image source: chairish.com

In 1918, the Yale University Press published a fifty-volume book series on American history entitled Chronicles of America. The series included contributions from Yale faculty, including Ellsworth Huntington, Charles Seymour, and Charles McLean Andrews. In 1923, the Yale University Press commissioned the production of historical films based on the series. Ultimately, fifteen films were made at a cost of $1.25 million dollars ($15.2 million dollars today) that proved to be a financial failure. The films not only proved to be theatrically impractical, but unusable in schools that at the time lacked the means to incorporate films into the classroom. Two of these films—“The Puritans” and “The Pilgrims,” both produced in 1924, provide instructive glimpses into how academic historians of a century ago envisioned the shared heritage of the America and New England. Note: The films are posted on YouTube, so there may be commercials included that are unaffiliated with the films or with Yale University Press.