People & Places

Johnson County Historical Society event puts focus on historic and rare films and slides

Work of Frank and Indiana Brinton is topic of March 19 program

A photograph of Frank Brinton and his wife Indiana is displayed during a 2014 presentation at the Marion Heritage Center
A photograph of Frank Brinton and his wife Indiana is displayed during a 2014 presentation at the Marion Heritage Center. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CORALVILLE — History buffs and film enthusiasts alike can find something to appreciate at an upcoming event hosted by the Johnson County Historical Society.

On Sunday, March 19, historian Michael Zahs offers a presentation on the Brinton Entertainment Collection, an assortment of historic films created by Frank and Indiana Brinton, traveling entertainers from Washington, Iowa.

Alyssa McGhghy, exhibit design and event planner for the historical society, said the Brinton Entertainment Series is something she’s been trying to put together for a while now.

“The Brintons were from Iowa so I think it’s important for the community to learn about that connection and see their films. I called Michael on the phone in December and it blossomed into this great three-part series,” McGhghy said.

The event — which includes examples of the Brintons’ collection of magic lantern slides and films — takes place at 2 p.m. at the Johnson County Historical Society Museum, 860 Quarry Road in Coralville.

Frank and Indiana Brinton traveled the Midwest between 1879 and 1915 and are thought to be the most documented traveling entertainers from their time period, McGhghy said.

“These films are some of the oldest in the world and some are the only known copy to exist,” she said.

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Zahs plans to discuss Frank Brinton’s involvement with aviation and present photos and drawings of the entertainer’s airships.

“He was working on airships by 1890,” McGhghy said.

The Brinton Collection is housed by University of Iowa’s special collections. University of Iowa Community Credit Union is the event’s sponsor.

The Brinton Entertainment Series is also to include projections of the Brinton films — and chamber music performed by Red Cedar Chamber Music — at Iowa City’s Englert Theatre, as well as a screening of the documentary “Saving Brinton,” which tells about Zahs’ preservation of historic films, including those by the Brintons, at FilmScene in Iowa City.

McGhghy said dates for those two events are still being confirmed.

The March 19 event is free to Johnson County Historical Society members and $5 for others. Interested individuals can make reservations by calling (319) 351-5738 or online at johnsoncountyhistory.org.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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