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Cora Johnstone Best and Audrey Forfar Shippam

Waller, Gregory

Through most of the 1920s, Cora Johnstone Best and Audrey Forfar Shippam engaged in what seems to have been in this period a rare if not unique form of professional collaboration, with Best delivering lectures illustrated with lantern slides and motion pictures that had been shot by Shippam during the pair’s adventures in the remote Canadian Rockies. Best, a medical doctor who became widely known for her mountaineering exploits, had been a public speaker since at least 1918. Her active career as a lecturer lasted from 1922, when she was hired as a representative of the Bureau of Commercial Economics (BCE), until her death in 1930. During these years the film lecture was a widely popular nontheatrical exhibition format, and Best was possibly the most successful woman in the United States working in what was an overwhelmingly male-dominated field. After Best’s death, there is no record of Shippam (who lived until 1975) continuing to shoot film or to create hand-colored lantern slides. Unfortunately, none of the motion pictures shot by Shippam for use in the lectures seem to have survived.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Film
Libraries
Series
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
November 13, 2019