University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Elder Folks as “Living Museums”


By: Kate Pourshariati

February 8, 2016

We in the Museum Archives were pleased to host the extended George Rawls family, where they were able to catch up on their grandfather/great-grandfather and his role in the feature film Matto Grosso, the Great Brazilian Wilderness (1931).

Our visitor John Ash is the grandson of George Rawls, the Florida cowboy who played the lead character in the film, kind of an everyman character with a distinct Florida southern accent. According to the family, until two months ago they had no idea that their grandfather “starred” in the film, and likely he did not know either.

What made John’s visit so wonderful is that he seems to manifest the cultural qualities of his grandpa, and the “cracker” cowboy culture of Florida, which is rapidly fading. We felt almost as if George himself was visiting, and we learned how exactly he got to go from a small town by the swamps of the Everglades all the way to Mato Grosso, Brazil. In this fragment of oral history there are aspects of this folklife manifested in John, he talks about George Rawls, cracker culture, and the situation of wild Florida today.

Earlier posts on MGtGBW

Rawls 25643

Rawls and friend

Source material:  Matto Grosso the Great Brazilian Wilderness


© Penn Museum 2018 Sitemap / Contact / Copyright / Disclaimer / Privacy / Upenn