The UT Libraries has created an online digital collection of photos and home movies of the Smokies taken in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s by a Townsend businessman. Folk songs performed by local musicians have been added to the originally silent film clips. The William Derris Collection, composed of 334 slides and twelve film clips, is available online for free.
William Derris, owner of the Derris Motel in Townsend, Tennessee, crisscrossed the Great Smoky Mountains by automobile, recording the people and scenery in both slides and silent film. He used the images and films to entertain and inform the guests at his motel. Derris’s images document landscapes, flora, wildlife, and people in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including Townsend, Tuckaleechee, Cades Cove, Wears Valley, Little Greenbrier, and Fontana.
Approximately 4,400 slides and eight reels of 8mm film shot by Derris were donated to UT Libraries. The film footage was first digitized, and then the most interesting Smokies content was excerpted to create shorter clips.View films online | View slides online