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Lost and Found Sound: Manicurists
NPR's Marika Partridge rediscovers a family treasure: reels and reels of tape recordings from her family's 1968 journey across Eurasia and Africa. That year, her dad was leaving a military assignment in the Far East. He planned a journey through Thailand, Burma, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Pakistan, Kashmir, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere by train, car and boat.
The years just after the Second World War saw the advent of a new genre of classroom films: "social guidance" or "attitude enhancement" films -- we'll call them "mental hygiene" films. Young people in schools across America saw films with titles like "Dating Dos and Don'ts," "Mind Your Manners," "Are You Popular?" and, "Narcotics: Pit of Despair." Topics included table manners, etiquette, fitting in, posture, dating, highway safety, substance abuse, and juvenile delinquency. They were tools of social engineering, made to shape the values and attitudes of an entire generation of American kids. More than three-thousand of these films were made over nearly three decades. Now, fewer than half of them survive. Ken Smith has written a new book called "Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films, 1945-1970". He'll be our tour guide through this Lost and Found Sound report on this funny, fascinating, and largely forgotten genre of American filmmaking.