What It Means To Be an American

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What It Means To Be an American is a short film from 1952 released on 16mm. It is held in the Prelinger Archives collection.

Much discussion about how Americans can feel free to speak openly without fear. stresses value of cooperation and independence. Most visuals are less than Hollywood-quality, though acceptable for most uses.

Brief shots of homes in these locations: New England farm; Salem, Massachusetts; New York City; Philadelphia; Charleston harbor and residential neighborhoods; Miami; Midwest; Colorado Springs; Denver; Tucson; California; Laramie, Wyoming; Helena, Montana; Sacramento, California; Frankfort, Kentucky; Austin, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; Boston; Charles River; Boston Common aerial; sign: Home of Paul Revere, North Church; Glacier National Park; Wichita, Kansas; Gallup, New Mexico; merry-go-round; South Carolina match factory, Pennsylvania steel factory; Long Beach Ford factory;

children playing in a sandbox; family picnic; sibling fighting over toys and food; badminton; classroom; fighting on the school playground. CU cherries on the tree; house building; African-Americans working in construction, including a foreman; harbor workers;

schools: University of Wyoming; University of Kentucky; University of New Hampshire; University of Florida; Dartmouth;

setting up for a high school commencement; High school graduation at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles; snow melting trickling down ravines becoming white-water rapids;

Niagara Falls; Lake in between snowcapped mountains; oil fields;

"The fact that we have so many types of land and climate tends to make us a tolerant people with many different interests and ideas." "We are governed by our national government and our state government and this tends to keep us from having too strong centralized government." "Let's look in on a typical American family on a northwestern fruit farm and see how little Americans start out in life." "From the time that American children are very small, they are taught that each person should have consideration. American children are encouraged to think for themselves, to make good decisions."

"Even small American boys love mechanical toys. They like to find out what makes them run. Parents encourage this interest and its no wonder that we are a national highly trained in mechanical skills."

"Even small children feel free to speak their own opinions in an American home."

"We are indeed fortunate to have a chance to learn and think for ourselves and not to be controlled by the state every minute of our lives. "

23:11:52 Trees in autumn. Small town with autumn leaves blowing around. 23:12:29 New England farm 23:12:30 Street in Salem, Massachusetts. Upscale traditional homes. 23:12:40 New York City harbor and skyline 23:12:45 Philadelphia suburban stone-faced house. 23:12:50 Charleston, South Carolina houses and harbor 23:13:13 Nice shot of Miami, Florida framed by palm trees 23:13:18 Midwestern farms 23:13:29 Western landscape with mountains 23:13:26 Houses in Colorado Springs and Denver. Snow. 23:13:34 Desert houses near Tuscon, Arizona 23:13:39 California houses 23:13:43 Shady street in Laramie, Wyoming 23:13:52 View of Rocky Mountains through trees 23:13:56 Field of wheat 23:13:56 Lake with mountains in background 23:14:03 Oil field 23:14:05 Desert mountains 23:14:13 Panorama of Helena, Montana especially the Montana State House. 23:14:23 State House at Sacramento, California 23:14:32 Statehouse at Frankfort, Kentucky 23:14:39 Street in Austin, Texas with State House in background 23:1442 Charles River, bridges, VS of Boston, Boston Common, home of Paul Revere, North Church, Statue of Paul Revere with schoolchildren 23:15:40 VS scenes of people gathered in small groups on the street carrying on discussions 23:16:08 Mountains in Glacier Park, lakes, trees, scenics (well shot!) 23:16:59 Typical American family on northwestern fruit farm. Family plays in sand box. Children fight over same toy. Parents mediate toy, trucks, dog. 23:18:49 Farm family has picnic in backyard. Brother and sister fight over potato chips. 23:15:57 Family plays badminton 23:21:13 Horseback riding 23:22:00 Teacher in grade school classroom with children 23:22:10 Teacher and children on playground 23:22:20 3 boys wrestling on school playground 23:22:30 Family picking cherries in orchard 23:23:20 Father talks with fruit pickers 23:24:12 Carpenters building a house. Multi-ethnic workers 23:25:20 Young man nails on roofing shingles. 23:25:40 Workers apply stucco to side of house 23:26:10 Pennsylvania steel plant. VS smokestack industry, factories, smoke. 23:26:23 Long Beach, California Ford Auto plant 23:26:35 Montage of home appliances 23:26:40 University of Wyoming, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Florida 23:27:23 Dartmouth College campus 23:27:39 VS montage of churches in different places - Charleston, South Carolina, Wichita, Kansas City, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City 23:29:07 Indian village near Gallup, New Mexico. church, street fair, carousel with children of many nationalities. 23:28:44 High school students move benches and tables to set up for high school commencement exercises. Boy carries large table over his head. Set up sound equipment. 23:34:00 Outdoor high school graduation. Boy talks with policeman. Students in caps and gowns. Large high school graduation in Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California 23:35:00 Good shots mountains, rivers, waterfalls, scenics, rivers, rapids, Columbia River, Niagara Falls.


What It Means To Be an American
Produced byFrith Films
Frith Films
Distributed byFrith Films
Release date
Running time
2 reels
ewid: 947 | Fresh | || dopt: {{{dopt}}}