Waters Films Showing Black Residents in Chapel Hill in 1939 (Reel 2)

Photographer H. Lee Waters traveled across North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee from 1936-1942 to film small communities. These videos, which he named “Movies of Local People” aired in local movie theaters, often before feature films. Trying to film as many people as possible, Waters would set up his equipment at gathering points in communities like main intersections, schools, and downtowns. While Waters filmed both white and Black communities, in Chapel Hill he only filmed Black communities. After finishing his “Movies of Local People” series in 1942, he returned to his photography studio in Lexington, North Carolina where he remained until his death in 1997.

For more information on H. Lee Waters and his films, go to Duke University’s H. Lee Waters Collection.

Courtesy of the H. Lee Waters Family and the State Archives of North Carolina

H. Lee Waters Film Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

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Citation: H. Lee Waters, “Waters Films Showing Black Residents in Chapel Hill in 1939 (Reel 2),” From the Rock Wall, accessed June 1, 2023,

Rights: This material is made available for research, scholarship, and private study. Copyright in this material has not been transferred to Duke University. For reuses of this material beyond those permitted by fair use or otherwise allowed under the Copyright Act, please see our page on copyright and citations:

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