Dead Sea Scrolls Archival Newsreel Footage

DSS Wall Street Journal Ad 1 June 1954Pretty much everyone with a passing knowledge of the Dead Sea Scrolls will recognize the famous ad in The Wall Street Journal (1 June 1954) placed at the request of the Syrian Archbishop Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel. Mar Samuel had brought four scrolls to the US. These were some of the first scrolls that had come to light in late 1946 or early 1947–the well preserved scrolls said to have come from “Cave 1”– the Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa), the Rule of the Community (1QS), the Habakkuk Pesher (1QpHab), and the Genesis Apocryphon (1QgenApoc). Until recently, however, I was unaware that there was newsreel footage in the Sherman Grinberg Film Library of the publicity tour put on by Mar Samuel shortly after his arrival in the US in 1949. It’s fascinating to see the scrolls actually being handled and rolled out (this looks like the Isaiah Scroll being laid out on a table):

Source: Sherman Grinberg Film Library

In October of 1949, Mar Samuel brought these four scrolls to the US, and they were displayed in a series of venues:

  • The Library of Congress in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. (23 October – 6 November 1949) Newsreel clip of exhibit here.
  • The Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore (10-17 November)
  • Duke University (12-17 February 1950)
  • The Oriental Institute in Chicago (17-26 November 1950)
  • The Worcester Art Museum (October 1951)

There are a few other clips at the website of the Grinberg Film Library (search “Dead Sea Scrolls”). This footage (along with the similar clips at Getty Images) all relates to the display of the scrolls in Washington, D.C., but it appears there must be other records of these exhibits. In his thorough account of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Weston Fields includes this image from the display at Duke University:

Image source: Weston W. Fields, The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Full History: Volume One, 1947-1960 (Leiden: Brill, 2009), p. 102

It would be good to learn if there is other existing video footage of the Scrolls at this relatively early date.

This entry was posted in Antiquities Market, Dead Sea Scrolls, Videos. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Dead Sea Scrolls Archival Newsreel Footage

  1. Pingback: Dead Sea Scrolls Archival Newsreel Footage — Variant Readings | Talmidimblogging

  2. I asked Duke U. Archives, part of Rubenstein Library, whether they have any film (video) of the February 1950 exhibit (and maybe on offer for sale) of three Dead Sea ScrolIs in Duke Chapel. They replied that they do not. (William H. Brownlee’s papers are now at University of Manchester.)

  3. Steven Avery says:

    Fantastic vid.

    Is there any explanation for the white background?
    And was that a temporary scroll around the scroll?
    And was there any pasting involved?

    Notice that in today’s pics there is nothing like the white scrolling background:

    The Great Isaiah Scroll
    http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah

    Am I missing something?
    Any help appreciated!

    Steven Avery
    Dutchess County, NY

  4. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the video links! The prize would be video Brownlee took of Samuel first arriving at the ASOR, noted by Fields to be retained by the Brownlee family. A backing of brown paper was originally applied, then the white one seems to have replaced it. Brownlee says, “We were able to obtain better paper at a later date and to redo the whole job.” (“My Eight Years of Scroll Research,” 73).

  5. Yes there is a private film taken by John C. Trever and William Brownlee in the American School in Jerusalem before the photosession, when Trever took the famous photos from the scrolls.

  6. Pingback: Qumran Cave 1 Questions, Part 1: The Genesis Apocryphon Roll | Variant Readings

  7. Pingback: Trever’s Photos of the Cave 1 Scrolls Freely Available Online | Variant Readings

  8. This are the digitale slides, which are at home by James Trever – his son. As far as I remember from my visit by John C. Trever and James Sanders more the 20 years ago, the collection in Claremont holds ALL the slides from different sets of John C. Trever. They have also the slides which Trever took from the backside of the scrolls, which had been never published.

  9. Duke has many photos from the exhibition as well as Washington.

  10. Pingback: Images of Dead Seas Scrolls – Historias

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