Library of Congress Wants Your Old Travel Films
Editor’s Sidebar: Jocelyn and her late husband Raphael Green produced travel films in the glory days of our art form. She was also a columnist for the print edition of Travel Adventure Cinema. Welcome home, Jocelyn.
A few years ago, Stan Walsh visited the Library of Congress Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. At that time he spoke with George Willeman in the Moving Image section and was cordially received.
Last October I was back East visiting relatives and friends and was able to make an appointment to include a stop at the Center in Culpepper, Virginia. It was fairly easy to find, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“Before we go to my desk,” George Willeman said, “I’d like you to meet my boss.” We stopped by the office of Rob Stone, Moving Image curator, and went no farther. We talked for almost an hour. Rob was intrigued with the idea of having a separate section just for Travelogues. “But,” he warned, “the wheels of government grind ver-r-r-y slowly. And this is, after all, a government facility.”
What we were able to envision in the space of minutes, will most likely take years to execute.
Rob pointed out that when reel-to-reel film was no longer in vogue, libraries around the United States sent their old films to the Library of Congress. Can you imagine hundreds of pallets with cases of films piled high? What a nightmare that must have been. And probably still is.
Despite that, they are not only willing, but eager to have our old films – including outs of a reasonable length – (none just an inch or two long). Many of us have historic footage and some of it might not have fitted into the story we were telling.
We do not have to get all the films together in a bunch before sending them. One film at a time would be ideal. Included with that one film would be a script, if available, (many of the “old timers” narrated their films using the scenes on the screen as their notes), a tape recording of the narration, if available, field notes, and publicity material including pictures, a bio of the speaker, and, failing a script, a scene listing identifying people, as well as locations.
Most important, though, is that we contact Rob and get his permission before sending any footage to him. His e-mail address is mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. He will supply you with the mailing address when he replies. George said he’d appreciate a cc of the request at email@example.com. And, if you happen to have nitrate films, George is your man, not Rob.
They do have a 200-seat theater, and they do show old films on a regular basis. I broached the idea of having a regular Travelogue Series and having children bused in from neighboring communities, (Washington, DC is not that far away) but there again is an idea that must wait for the government to decide its time to come.
Rob Stone showing strip of celluloid to students
Many of us have brought back souvenirs from our filming trips; some of them gifts from guides or hosts. Unfortunately, we will not be able to store these artifacts at the film facility. Perhaps the Smithsonian will be interested in some of them.
(Interesting Factoid: the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center provides underground storage for this entire collection on 90 miles of shelving, together with extensive modern facilities for the acquisition, cataloging and preservation of all audio-visual formats.)
To catch a video clip of the Center’s activities, click on Culpepper