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Texas-Mexican Presbytery records: Digitized 16mm films

Thanks to a partnership between the Austin Seminary Archives and the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI), a group of 16mm films from the Texas-Mexican Presbytery Records has been digitized and made available online. These films were shot in the 1940s as part of an unfinished film project documenting the work of the presbytery with Mexican-American churches in Texas.

A feature of the TAMI website allows people viewing the footage to “tag” sections of the film if they are able to identify people, places or things that are pictured. There is information on how to do that on the TAMI help page, and an example of a clip with segments “tagged” is available here. You may also contact the archivist with any identifications or questions.

Film number one

This film features the Texas-Mexican Presbytery’s churches in central and east Texas in the 1940s. Footage shot in and around Houston, New Braunfels, Lockhart, Austin, Waco, and possibly Taylor shows various scenes of the Mexican-American community: congregations, ministers at the pulpit, families posing, children playing, and adults gathering in their Sunday best.



Film number two

This film features the Texas-Mexican Presbytery in the 1930s and 1940s. Filmed at churches, schools, missions, and community centers in and around Corsicana, Dallas, Fort Worth, Kerrville, Galveston and other Texas locations, this footage includes an assortment of activities organized by the presbytery - everything from church services and committee meetings to picnics and swims in the Gulf of Mexico.



Film number three

Filmed in the 1940s, this footage documents the graduation ceremonies at the Presbyterian School for Mexican Girls (or Pres-Mex) in Taft, Texas, with additional footage of the graduates and their families on campus. The woman handing out diplomas at the graduation ceremony is Dr. Berta Murray.



Film number four

This film features a meeting of Texas-Mexican Presbytery committee members at an outdoor meal, followed by a second, larger gathering of church members at a Mexican-Presbyterian church in what is likely Kingsville, Texas.



Film number five

This film features San Benito and Austin in the 1940s. Footage includes scenes in a hospital and the Presbytery’s education director Beatrice Fernandez speaking before a committee meeting. About two minutes in, the camera shows the Spanish-Speaking graduates of Austin Seminary filing out of the chapel, and then pans across the campus from 27th street.



Film number six

Panning across the faces of a Presbyterian congregation in Angleton, Texas, this brief film culminates with the church’s minister preaching.



Film number seven

This film was shot in Mercedes, Texas and shows the wife of Reverend J. de la Luz Guerrero being greeted by her six sons and then posing together as a group. All of the Guerrero sons served in the military and one had been taken as a prisoner by the Japanese.



Film number eight

A Texas-Mexican Presbytery road trip to what are likely the borderlands of west Texas/Mexico, features images of the border bridge, a Rio Grande canyon and an impromptu service station.



Film number nine

This film features footage of a wildflower-covered Texas countryside, parts unknown.




Film number ten

This film features a look at a South Texas house, along with its lawn and garden.




Film number eleven

This film features classic views of the springtime Texas countryside, including children posing in fields of wildflowers.



Film number twelve

This film features a brief clip of a sidewalk and flowering bush in a residential neighborhood.


*Film descriptions come from TAMI based on notes by former Austin Seminary archivist Bill Brock.