"Siam, Land of the White Elephant" - Video of American Presbyterian Mission & Thai churches, schools in 1932

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

In January 1932, the Publication Department of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent Rev. Henri R. Rabb, a missionary in India, to visit Thailand to gather footage to make a short film about Presbyterian missions there.  Arriving on Feb 2nd with his wife and 8-year-old son, Rabb visited Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  Paul Eakin, the executive secretary of the Siam Mission, assigned Rev. Paul Fuller to assist Rabb in Bangkok, and Dr. D.R. Collier to assist him in Chiang Mai.
 
Title Screen
Title Screen "Siam, Land of the White Elephant"
 
The resulting movie, linked below, was a 34-minute black-and-white silent film titled, “Siam, Land of the White Elephant”.  The first half of the film shows lots of cultural material about Thailand - elephants moving logs, women weaving, farmers threshing grain, etc. The second half of the film focuses specifically on the work of the American Presbyterian Mission in Thailand (Siam).  It includes many mission institutions and churches, including McKean's leper colony in Chiang Mai, McCormick Hospital, Prince Royal’s College, Dara Wittaya Academy, Bangkok Christian College, First Church Samray, Second Church (Bangkok), Fourth Church (Suebsampantawong), and the Loyal School (Bangkok).  We also get to see rural evangelism and a church service conducted by an older missionary couple (whom I have yet to identify) as well as a missionary (probably Paul Fuller) doing open-air evangelism at Ban Phachi train station in Ayuthaya province.  There are some Thai Christian leaders in the video as well, but unfortunately, only institutions are named in this movie, not individuals, either Thai or foreigners.
 
Video of Thailand in the 1920s is not plentiful and video of Thai Christians and missionaries and their work is even more difficult to find.  For that reason, I was delighted to find this video in the archives at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia and didn’t mind paying to get it digitized because I believe this short film is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of Christianity in Thailand.
 
Click here to view "Siam, Land of the White Elephant" on YouTube