Harrison County

Help needed to ID people, places in 1950 Biloxi documentary

A thriving downtown Biloxi in the 1950s is pictured in a documentary that compares social change in the city to that of Nazi Germany. The city is seeking identifications of people and places in the film, made by the U.S. Army.
A thriving downtown Biloxi in the 1950s is pictured in a documentary that compares social change in the city to that of Nazi Germany. The city is seeking identifications of people and places in the film, made by the U.S. Army. King Rose Archives

A documentary filmed in 1950 in Biloxi is getting another look, not for its title — “Social Change in a Democracy Versus Nazi Germany” — but for its scenery and people.

The United States Army produced the black-and-white film with the intent of showing how a high school class learns how to effect social change in a democracy.

Among the scenes are old Biloxi City Hall and the old Biloxi High School, where girls are seen attending class in dresses, skirts and saddle shoes.

It also shows students’ reactions to film clips of Hitler and the concentration camps and crematoriums during World War II.

Local fishermen and city officials are seen as the community works to enact laws to protect local water quality and the livelihoods of fishermen.

The city is working to obtain a quality version of the documentary from the National Archives.

Jane Shambra, head of the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Biloxi Public Library, needs help identifying the people and Biloxi locations in the documentary. A viewing of the clip will be shown from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the library on Howard Avenue.

“It’s fascinating to see video of old Biloxi and the people of old Biloxi,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said. “What we want to do now is identify as much as we can, and, using the National Archives issue, create a ‘pop-up’ version of the documentary, with informative subtitles.”

Sun Herald

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