Sulphur Springs Collection of Pre-Nickelodeon Films, Hamon Arts Library

About the Collection


Two Rubes at the Theater, 1901, by Lubin

The Sulphur Springs Collection of Pre-Nickelodeon Films is part of the extensive moving image holdings of the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection (formerly the Southwest Film/Video Archive). The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection is part of the Hamon Arts Library.

Hamon Arts Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.

Collection Materials and History

In April, 1993, staff members of the Southwest Film-Video Archive (SWFVA) at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, were contacted by a private individual in the small east Texas town of Sulphur Springs regarding some old films that had been moldering in a closet for some fifteen years.

When the reels of film on original 35 mm nitrate stock were acquired, cleaned, and inspected, a rich find dating back to the turn of the century was discovered. Eight reels of varying length contained a total of 33 early films predating the Nickelodeon era.

Remarkably, the surviving films are substantially intact and relatively free of nitrate decomposition. The collection, which spans 1898 through 1906, includes a number of single-shot actualities, vaudeville acts, and comedies, five multi-shot story films of the 1904-05 period, and seven panoramas taken by Edison cameramen of the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

(Worland, R. 1995. The Sulphur Springs, Texas early films discovery. Journal of Film Preservation 51: 56-64.

Twenty-nine films from the Sulphur Springs collection -- including seven films depicting the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake -- are being made available as part of CUL Digital Collections.

Panorama notorious 'Barbary Coast', 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, by Edison

Digital Collections Policies and Procedures

The films were first digitized and made available as a DVD. SMU’s Norwick Center for Digital Services recaptured the files from the DVD, made slight edits in Final Cut Pro, and exported the movies as Quicktime files. They were then compressed for streaming in Quicktime Pro. They are accessible here as Quicktime streaming files, which require the Quicktime 7+ plugin (


Please cite G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Southern Methodist University when using these video files.

Contact Info

For more information about the Sulphur Springs Collection of Pre-Nickelodeon Films and the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library, please contact