Home Movies: Preserving a Lens into the Past
This website is a tool to allow those interested in film and history to gain a greater understanding of different aspects of film archives and their use in order to move outside the bounds of traditional research (i.e. books, journals, manuscripts). It also helps the public to gain a better understanding of film preservation and history in a way that is accessible. The site utilizes resources on the subject of film education that already exist, as well as work done within the University of Georgia Library's Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Collection. Film as a cultural phenomenon is important to not only students, but to communities who often engage with visual media in their daily lives to understand their ancestors – how they dressed, where they went, and how they went about their daily lives. It is important for the public to understand how to navigate visual media as one avenue to engage with the past.
How people engage (or do not engage) with audio-visual materials from a historical perspective is related to how this lens into the past is presented and promoted. In many undergraduate film studies, the notion of using a film archive for historical research or film research is not a widely taught concept. This project’s intention is to dispel the myth that film is primarily used for reasons of nostalgia and entertainment, but rather that it is important for anyone to engage with films to figure out what movies say about people, places, and time periods. Film, especially home movies, does this better than any other historical format. Whereas the use of paper resources essentially forces historians to piece together what the past looked like, film puts a person back into the past with greater intimacy and nuance than most other genres. Subjects of home movies also do not always know, or are not comfortable with, being filmed so they are not as inclined to act for the camera.
A secondary purpose of this website is to act as an interface for a project done at The University of Georgia's Brown Media Archives. The archives took the collection and put it into the OHMS viewer, ensuring that it is now available online and searchable. More information on this project can be found here.