One of the primary functions of the American Turpentine Farmers Association (ATFA) was to promote the use of gum turpentine consumer products. During the late 1930s, the advertising committee focused on a national campaign that featured new turpentine packaging and labels, advertisements in numerous publications, and the support of local 4-H paint teams. In June 1942, it was proposed that the association fund a film about gum naval stores. The ATFA Board of Directors approved $5,000 for the production of such a film at the meeting in April of 1943.
The Georgia Agricultural Extension Service in conjunction with ATFA produced Suwanee Pine under the supervision of J.P. Nicholson. This film illustrates the process and history of producing naval stores in the United States turpentine belt. The film details the process from the initial tapping of the pine trees through the distillation process to the numerous usages of rosin and turpentine by consumers. J. Aubrey Smith directed the film's photography, John Martin narrated the film, and Edward Craig directed the musical score. ATFA provided several technical advisors including President Judge Harley Langdale, M.E. Coleman, and Eugene F. Greneker, AT-FA Journal editor.
On May 18, 1944, the first public showing of Suwanee Pine was held at the Ritz Theater in Valdosta, Georgia. The film was shown along with Treasure Land, which documented the importance of the 4-H, and the entire event was broadcast over WGOV. At the premiere Judge Langdale received an award from the local 4-H Club for his support. After the initial screening, Suwanee Pine was shown throughout the Southeast, to both rural audiences and civic organizations.
A portion of the 1951 version of Suwanee Pine may be viewed on this site. Scenes depicting early rosin gradation standards have been cut; however, a complete discussion of the history of rosin gradation can be found here in this June 1953 article in the AT-FA Journal.
The film has been preserved through a partnership between the Russell Library and Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, University of Georgia Libraries, where it is available for licensing and viewing in its entirety.