Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Intro. and Making the Hidden Treasures Accessible

Hello, my name is Monica Nicola and I am the Media Cataloging Assistant for the CLIR Hidden Collections Project, "Intellectual Access to Moving Images of Work Life, 1916-1960." I am a recent graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and the University of Rochester collaborative Master’s Program in Film Archiving and Preservation. In my role for the project, I have been fortunate in viewing images and working with films from some of the 50 chosen collections at Northeast Historic Film (NHF) that haven't been seen in over 50 years. My responsibilities are varied, but one of my main tasks at NHF is to provide accessible reference copies (DVD, VHS) of the collections for the CLIR Project Catalogers. To give you an idea of what is needed to provide this, here are the steps ( in general) to realizing this objective.

The Camp Runoia Collection is a good example to explain the process. The collection consists of over 75 reels of 16mm film of events at the camp ranging from 1928 until the early 1980s. To begin with I need the file and any records of the collection that are in the current database. All collections at NHF have files which include acquisition, donor information, correspondence, previous inspection sheets, etc. The next step is to locate and pull the film collection from the NHF cold storage vault. I have to look at all of the reels and date the films as closely as possible to when they were made. On Kodak film stock I can look for printed date codes on the edge of the films. Also any written/labeled information on the film cans or reels helps to date the film.

If files,cans, reels or date codes do not provide a time frame the images, under magnification, can give clues by hopefully recognizing styles of clothing, hair, cars, or any signage, etc. I have to say this is also the most enjoyable part particularly if you see some fun, amusing or charming images of the people in these films. The reels then numbered starting at the earliest date (Reel-1,2,3). Each reel is then inspected for any damage, repaired (if needed). One of the most important goals is to provide the least amount of detriment to the original film by transferring the images to BetaSP which will be used to dub reference copies. The original reels are assembled to create 1200 foot reels (which is about 1 hour running time) for transfer. The tapes are dubbed onto DVDs and labeled, ready for viewing. Documentation of the inspection is necessary as well as providing any notable information about the film (gauge, footage, etc.)to the catalogers.

The Camp Runoia Collection was the first collection I worked on practically from scratch and it was (still is for me) a learning experience, quite different than from the school environment I had. And I definitely needed the expertise and guidance of Gemma Perretta, NHF Collections Manager who is a pro in all aspects of this process. The Camp Runoia Collection is now back in the film vault for safe storage. Now that you have an idea of some of my tasks as part of the CLIR project, I will be updating you on the other collections I have been working on and/or any discoveries that I find interesting and hope they will peak your interest.


Pam said...

Monica! We really appreciate the work you did on our films. Camp Runoia is gearing up for our 104th season, providing summer camp opportunities for girls from around the country and even other countries. We are also preparing for our 105th reunion next summer - Camp Runoia alumnae are excited to join us on the shores of Great Pond in the Belgrade Lakes to rekindle memories and extend friendships from over the decades.

Katrina Dixon, Media Cataloger, Northeast Historic Film said...

Wonderful to hear from you, Pam! It has been our pleasure to process and work on this collection. We have discovered many treasures (including one irresistible 1983 film titled "Wanda the Wild Woods Woman Meets the Apathy Fairy") and I am thrilled to share them with you. I will be in touch very soon about helping to rekindle these memories using the Runoia Collection at your 105th reunion celebrations!

Monica Nicola said...

It was a rewarding experience working with your films. I thought it was wonderful how early (1920's) Camp Runoia made efforts to record special moments that only happen once. I also thought about the amateur filmmakers (staff and some of the girls that participated) and if their early film-making experiences influenced their future career choices in any way. Could be interesting to, perhaps, ask at your reunion?

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