Long thought of as merely a way of preserving family memories, the humble home movie is getting more attention as a valuable cultural and historical document.
Trent Valley Archives (TVA) in Peterborough have been accepting films, including home movies, for several years.
They include a black and white film from the 1920’s showing young people cavorting at a cottage on Stoney Lake, and a documentary on the creation of a decorative fountain in Peterborough’s Little Lake.
Archivist Elwood Jones says movies can broaden our appreciation of what our history looked like.
“The representation of what happens can get captured in video better than in photographs it’s quite important,” said Jones.
Trent University Cultural Studies student Madison More is on an internship at TVA. Her job is to treat the 8 mm and 16 mm films in the collection in a proper archival fashion: organizing, inspecting and repairing damage. She then will provide an opinion on what should happen with the films.
“Kind of providing suggestions for what films we should have digitized, how we can store the films and make them more accessible,” said More.
One might think old home movies that depict family gatherings or vacations are too specific to be of much use to the rest of society.
Kelly Egan, a cultural studies professor at Trent University says that is not the case.
“Things that are everyday and ordinary to us might not seem valuable at the time but in retrospect, they hold a lot of meaning. So with home movies we find little nuggets of information that might not have been there in written forms or in other texts so home movies provide us with alternative histories,” said Egan.
On Oct. 21, Peterborough will join cities from 14 other countries in holding a Home Movie Day.
People are encouraged to bring along a home movie to show and to share what the film is about and what it means to them. Full details are available at the Trent Valley Archives website.