Norman Studios Silent Film Museum

Jacksonville, FL

The Norman Studios is a National Historical Landmark and the only surviving complete race production studio in the United States. Now a museum and film center, its focus is on the preservation of the studio complex and on the promotion and celebration of Northeast Florida’s film history. Founded as Eagle Film City in 1916 during the era in which Jacksonville served as the “Winter Film Capital of the World,” the Norman Studios was the home and workplace of Florida-born filmmaker Richard E. Norman (1891-1960). There, Norman wrote, filmed, and edited his pioneering “race films” (which featured Black actors in prominent roles, addressed issues of special concern to Black viewers, and were shown largely to Black audiences nationwide). Unlike most of his fellow race producers, however, Norman was a white man, which made his achievement in the Jim Crow South that much more remarkable. He distinguished himself by his seven feature films, which challenged and reversed longstanding race stereotypes and created a sense of community among his cadre of actors and his audiences. Apart from a few brief fragments of his other films, only The Flying Ace (1926)—which can be viewed via a link from this website—survives. In 2021, the film was named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic importance.