Dating to the late 1940s or early 1950s, “Changing Cotton Lands” shows the South in transition as its residents struggle with the longterm effects of growing cotton and tobacco which (due to lack of proper techniques) deplete the soil and put family farms in grave danger. The film focuses on the environmental effects of farming and looks towards a future where the land is taken care of through knowledge and stewardship. The film focuses in part on the work of government officials who are working to educate sharecroppers and rural farmers in new techniques such as crop rotation, that enrich the soil. The film also discusses other methods of soil conservation and erosion control, and mentions new crops that are being grown in the South in place of traditional ones. The film also shows animal husbandry with sheep and cattle, including dairy cows, raised on family farms.

Most of the film was shot in Mississippi, and as you’ll (at 11:20) the state was still being electrified at this time.

At 13:00, the raising of pine trees is seen, and a reforestation program led by county agents and the U.S. Forest Service. The trees are used to produce turpentine and lumber, and the film shows how the trees are processed in a saw mill at 13:30.

At 15:20, suburban communities are seen sprouting up, including low cost housing. The model town of Laurel, Mississippi is seen at 16:00, home to the lumber industry and a huge cotton mill. The cotton industry is shown in the remainder of the film.

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Source: cuocdoidanghien.com

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  1. This still could be the 50's or 60's even. Many backwater places are well behind the times. Heck, my neighbors have a working lane #1 sawmill.

  2. I would guess this is late 40s, at the VERY latest. Sharecropping started to be untenable in the 50s with the advent of mechanization. As someone who's lived in the Carolinas his whole life, this is a fascinating, but bitter reminder of what life here was like not too long ago.

  3. One thing I enjoy about these old films is often the voices are familiar if you watch old TV shows or listen to old radio shows. Pretty sure that's Barney Phillips narrating, who was active in both mediums.


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