University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
Pebble Hill Plantation Film Collection


Donor: Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia
Date Range: c. 1917-c. 1976

Pebble Hill Plantation located just outside of Thomasville, Georgia, was one of the winter homes of the Howard Melville Hanna family of Cleveland, Ohio, which made its fortune in shipping, tobacco, and oil. Howard Melville Hanna first purchased the Melrose Plantation in Thomasville in 1896 and gave it to his son, Howard, Jr., in 1901. Shortly thereafter, he purchased Pebble Hill and gave it to his daughter Kate Hanna Ireland Harvey. Kate's two children were Livingston Ireland (1895-1982), known as "Liv", and Elisabeth Ireland Poe (1897-1978), known as "Pansy". Kate raised prize-winning Jersey cattle at Pebble Hill and Pansy was known for her horse riding skills. Pansy was the last family member to live at the plantation's main house and it was her wish that the property become the historic house museum and environmental preserve it is today.

The home movie collection features Pansy, Liv, and members of the extended Hanna family (notably, Howard Hanna, Jr., his wife, Claire, and their children) at Pebble Hill and in Kentucky and Ohio, friends and plantation workers, a summer home in Maine, and animals (mostly horses and dogs) that were part of life at Pebble Hill. Several reels feature horse shows and jumping events, some being commercially-made films about such events in the 1920s. Other home movies are typical of the genre and show Christmas holidays at home, travel scenes abroad, and summertime at a swimming pool or the beach, however, the bulk of the films have to do with riding or hunting.

Since Pebble Hill was a self-sustaining property, life there included tenant workers who lived on the property and who were a major part of its daily operations. Several reels show glimpses of African-Americans on the property: one in which the Pebble Hill baseball team is playing against another plantation's team, one showing two men with drums at an unidentified outdoor event, a man at the property's dog kennels, and a man training dogs to hunt a fox.

Two reels show noted artist J. Clinton Shepherd (1888-1975) painting the wildlife murals depicting forests, waterfowl, raccoons, turkeys, and deer which decorate the Great Room in Pebble Hill's main house.

Included in the donation are 70 episodes of a syndicated hunting and fishing television show from the 1950s called The Sportsman's Club. Not all episodes donated have been identified as to content or date aired. The program was created by and starred renaissance man David Newell (1898-1986), who was an author/folklorist, newspaper reporter, editor of Field and Stream, hunter, explorer, and photographer who was part of the famous Mato Grosso Expedition to Brazil in 1931. Newell's co-stars on the television program are Gale Borden, II (great-grandson of Gail Borden, who invented condensed milk and founded the Borden Co.), and Len Stokes. The program was produced by Mode-Art Pictures, Inc. and distributed through Syndicated Films of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Three commercially produced films in the collection were made by David Newell.

The collection is not yet fully processed and is being transferred to new media formats for ease of viewing. Please note that some reels donated are not in transferrable condition and so access to them is either extremely limited or not available; those reels are not listed on the finding aid. Requests for access should be directed to Ruta Abolins (

1 - 35mm home movie
9 - 28mm home movies
3 - 28mm commercially produced cartoons
70 - 16mm television films
3 - 16mm commercially produced films
1 - 16mm public service announcement
11 - 16mm home movies
8 - 8mm home movies

Johnson, Jean Hagan. Legacies From the Women: Pebble Hill Plantation, 1829-1999. Pebble Hill Foundation, 1999.

Brown, Titus, and James "Jack" Hadley. African-American Life on the Southern Hunting Plantation. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

Prepared by Margaret Compton, Media Archives Archivist