Consortium for the History of Agricultural and Rural Mississippi


Howard Langfitt WLBT "Farm Family of the Week" Exhibit

Collection Scope and Content Note

Howard Langfitt WLBT "Farm Family of the Week" Collection, 1955-1961 and undated
Acc. No. 469
Processed by SD, JH and MS

From 1954-1961, WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi sponsored a program which was the creative product of Howard Langfitt (1919-1997), Farm Services Director. "RFD Televisit", an agricultural news and educational program, aired from 12:25-1:00 P.M. Monday through Friday and was sponsored by Hercules Powder Company, Monsanto, various rural electrification systems, and other companies that had an interest in the rural television market. Each program included farm news, agricultural weather and some type of demonstration of an approved farming or homemaking project. Langfitt relied heavily on county agricultural extension agents for projects and suggestions that went into producing the show.

On Fridays, the "Farm Family of the Week" segment aired. Langfitt would obtain suggestions for families to be featured from county agricultural extension agents. To be chosen as "Farm Family of the Week", families had to live within the WLBT viewing area, and also had to qualify as excellent farmers to meet the high standards of Langfitt and his advisory agents. Every week, Langfitt drove on Monday in a WLBT car to the home of the farm family that would be featured on Friday. Once there, Langfitt would shoot some seventy shots of the farm, family members and usually the interior of the farm home. Then he would interview the family about their farming history, methods, and challenges. From this interview, Langfitt would write the script for the segment. To produce the show on a low budget, the photographic shots were not printed, but instead the images which were selected to be shown were "framed up" and the polarity on the television camera was reversed to show the negative frames as positives. On the day of the program, the family would come to the studio and would talk with Langfitt as a part of the segment.

After leaving WLBT in 1961, Langfitt retained the film negatives and scripts which make up the collection. 366 families are represented in the collection by 342 television scripts, and some 16,600 negative images. Most of the images are of Caucasian families, but there are images of African-Americans working on the farm and in the farm houses. Thirty-eight Mississippi counties and the Louisiana parishes of Madison and Tensas are represented. In addition, two educational institutions are represented: the French Camp Academy farm (September 7, 1956, script and 87 images) and the Hinds Junior College Agricultural Department (September 11, 1959, script and 72 images). Two meetings were the subjects of programs: a Delta Council meeting, May 26, 1961 (script only) and the Mississippi Association of Soil Conservation Districts annual meeting (undated, 11 images). The Livestock Market in Jackson, Mississippi was the subject of the August 18, 1961 (script only). Two recap stories featured a portion of the families (scripts, January 2, 1959 and December 30, 1960). 178 images are as yet unidentified.

The collection does not contain film or audio of any portion of the programs.

The collection is indexed by a database which can be searched online by single or multiple index terms. Currently, the collection is being digitized and scripts and images for those families that have given permission are being entered into the MSU Library's CONTENTdm database. The scripts will eventually be fully searchable. Both scripts and images can be searchable by multiple indexing terms.

The collection was donated by Howard Langfitt in 1990, with an addition in 1994. Size of Collection: 3 cu. ft.