HMBI066975 from HMH Archive on Vimeo.


This is the first of three reels of film documenting Helen Miller Bailey’s experiences living among the people of Santa Cruz Etla, Mexico, in the summer of 1934, together with her husband, Henry Morle Bailey. She returned several times over the next twenty years and her studies resulted in the publication of her book “Santa Cruz of Etla Hills” in 1958. The three reels contain overlapping footage, indicated in the descriptions. The third reel (i066016) includes additional footage of a return visit to the village in 1969.

Printed narrative titles describe the action: “Near the city of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico, is the little town of Santa Cruz Etla. Here as guests of the rural school, two Los Angeles high school teachers spent the summer of 1934.” —  Village, huts, local women, men, and children. — “The Americans are greeted with a drill by the children.” — Henry Morle Bailey rings bell. Children line up with flag, salute, and parade. — “They are justly proud of their school gardens.” — Children gardening. — “Rosita Arrieta, the teacher, and her assistant have a lesson in painting.” — Helen Miller Bailey working with schoolchildren at table. Henry Morle Bailey petting a donkey. — “Dona Estefana has a nice house, and a large family.” — Large brick building. Family lining up, smiling at camera. — “Also pigs and a yoke of oxen.” — “The towns’ [sic] only water supply for all purposes.” — Women at stream. — “The municipal building. Men come on foot and in ox-carts to the council meeting.” —  “The musicians are too busy for politics.” — Quartet playing violin, guitar,cello, and pipes. — “A community enterprise. Each day the goats, cattle and donkeys are herded to pasture.” — “Now just who is leading who.” — Two little boys trying to wrangle a boar.– “Funerals begin early and last all day.” — Women marching with large ornamental cross; musicians; the coffin. — “This, the funeral of a little boy, is a time for great festivities.” — Flowers, candles; the body is wrapped in ornamental fabric.– “The child’s godparents dance, and throw out candy. — “A scramble for candy, and now everyone dances.” — “Off to the Saturday market at Oaxaca, with Rosita and Dona Estefana.” — Helen Miller Bailey with a mule laden with baskets. “Getting on a mule presents some problems.” — Riding mules slowly down a dirt road into the village. — “And walk to the market in the center of the city.” — Busy marketplace. — “Here we purchase dolls, and materials to dress them.” — Helen Miller Bailey at stall, signaling to the camera. (See i066016 and i066009 for continuation of this film.)