Pearson, Adelaide Collection

Pearson, Adelaide Collection
Credit: Adelaide Pearson Collection. Northeast Historic Film. Adelaide Pearson en route to Tahiti, circa 1936.
      film (9,710 ft.) : si., b&w and col. ; 16 mm. reversal pos.
      1932 – 1945
      Blue Hill, Maine
      United Kingdom
      Tahiti, French Polynesia
      Sri Lanka
      Bangkok, Thailand
      Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
      Beijing, China
      Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
      Tokyo, Japan
      Nazareth, Israel
      Teotihuacan, Mexico
      The collection consists of 66 reels of black and white, and color 16 mm film. These are primarily films created by Adelaide Pearson during her world travels, including the Pacific, Asia, Africa, Central America, and Europe. Reels of a trip to Asia include footage of Mohandas Gandhi visiting an Indian village. Two reels, "Asiatic Potters," focus on pottery techniques in India, Vietnam, and Japan. Other films depict art classes, parades, and scenes at home in Blue Hill, Maine. The collection also contains educational works produced in the 1930s by Castle Films, including ‘Mayan Rites’, ‘San Francisco World's Fair’, ‘Coronation of King George VI’, and ‘The Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada and the United States’. Historical figures depicted in the films are Mohandas Gandhi, King George VI and the royal family, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Japanese potter Tomimoto Kenkichi.
      Adelaide Pearson was born into a wealthy Boston family in 1875. Educated at home, Pearson studied music, literature, and languages, becoming fluent in at least four. As an adult, she was active in several charities and societies, including the Children's Aid Society, the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, and Denison House. These served as a platform for her passion for education through art. In 1921 she published "The Laughing Lion and Other Stories" ( inspired by her travels and work with children.

      In 1928 Pearson moved to Blue Hill, Maine, where she was a major patron of the fledgling Blue Hill Library, and would eventually found the Rowantrees Pottery. In 1938, Pearson undertook a trip around the world with her friend and colleague Laura Paddock (1889-1980) to study various forms of pottery. During this trip Pearson met Mahatma Gandhi in Wardha, India. Pearson dedicated her life to social work, art, and travel. She died in Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1960.

      Sheila Varnum (1926-2012) was a longtime friend of Adelaide Pearson, who took over management of the Rowantrees Pottery after the passing of Laura Paddock.

      Castle Films was formed in 1924, and became a leading distributor of short films marketed to home audiences. The company was sold to Universal in 1947.

      Kimberly Tarr is author of "The World She Watched: An Examination of the Adelaide Pearson Travel Films," an NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation thesis project, also presented at the Northeast Historic Film summer symposium in 2009 and at Orphans 7 in New York in 2010.
      Northeast Historic Film
      The Collection is open for research.
      Authorization to reuse and/or reproduce must be obtained from Northeast Historic Film. See for more information.

      66 Items in this collection