< 1 of 1 > Back

She Blazed a Trail (clip) - The life of Church of Scotland missionary, Mary Slessor

This biographical documentary made in 1963 examines the life and times of Church of Scotland missionary Mary Slessor. It looks at her lowly origins, her work in Africa and the lives she saved through religion and hospital care. This clip features a dramatic reconstruction of her early life in Aberdeen and Dundee and takes the viewer on a journey to Africa to follow in her footsteps.

Colour, Sound

Length of clip: 10:24
Length of original film: 30:17

View film strip:
Thumbnail. Click to view full image


  • Where might you see Mary Slessar's face every day?
  • How might Mary's background and family circumstances have led her to choosing the life she did?
  • How many different documentary techniques are used to tell Mary's story?
  • Do the reports of Calabar that Mary reads back in Dundee turn out to be true?
  • Did the missions make Africa a better place?


Moving Image Education / Media Studies: What documentary techniques are used to construct this documentary. Research the life of a local personality and plan (and make) a documentary about them using the techniques that you think are most appropriate.

RME: Mary writes in the margin of the bible: “God and one are always a majority”. Discuss what Mary meant by this and what this enabled a missionary to do.

Economic History / Geography / Business Studies / Social History / Creative Writing: Research a worker's life in the jute mills of Dundee and write a journal entry of a jute weaver working in one of the mills.

Early Years / Technology: Compare and contrast the two weaving styles shown in Dundee and 'Old Calabar'. Try weaving using different materials in class.

History / Citizenship / International Education / Fair Trade: Analyse how Africa is presented in this film from 1963. Research how people viewed Africans in Victorian times and compare that with how we view African countries today. Tie this into your Fair Trade project and other charitable work in schools, e.g. Child sponsorship, Comic Relief and Make Poverty History.

History / English / Drama: Research and the life and work of Mary Slessor. Create a short piece of creative writing/play detailing her life and why she should be remembered today.

History / Gender: Research which other women and men feature on Scottish banknotes today (Clydesdale, Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland). Briefly research their contribution to society and present your findings in a multimedia presentation / illustrated talk describing their importance to history. Compare how many men feature compared to how many women and present your findings on a graph or chart.

Record details

To search for related items, click any highlighted text below.

Record ID: 007-000-000-349-C
Resource Rights Holder: Courtesy of the Church of Scotland
Related Records:
Project Ref: 4133
Date: 1963
Genre: Documentary, drama doc, historical, sponsored
Subject: RME, Citizenship, Geography, Tropical Rainforests, History, English, International Education (Curriculum for Excellence)
Who: Church of Scotland (sponsor)
Gateway Films (production company)
Where: Aberdeen (slums)
Africa (jungle)
Dundee (jute mills)
Event: Working life
< 1 of 1 > Back

Glow users must log-in using the following link:

Glow Log In

Shibboleth users can use the following link:

Shibboleth Log In

Other users log-in entering their username and password below:

Make site narrower Make site wider