Wednesday, February 22, 2012

University Libraries Digitize and Preserve History Captured in 16mm Films

Before cell phone cameras and YouTube, even before DVDs, historical events and everyday activities were captured on 16mm film. Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections has almost 900 reels of this antiquated film format that have been sitting on shelves for decades and have started to deteriorate. Now students, faculty, researchers, and everyone will be able to easily access and view these pieces of history in two new digital collections available in the Ball State Digital Media Repository (DMR), a project of the University Libraries.
The Ball State marching band participates in the 1952 Homecoming Parade.
The Ball State University Historic Films and Videos collection contains films that document significant campus events, social activities, athletic events, lectures and notable campus visitors, and faculty research projects from the 1950s through the 1970s. You can see University presidential inaugurations, ground breakings and dedications for campus buildings, speeches and interviews of celebrities and other campus visitors, football games (including Ball State’s appearance in the 1965 Grantland Rice Bowl), Homecoming, promotional films for Ball State, and campus scenes depicting student activities and campus life.

The Muncie and Delaware County Films and Videos collection features rare historical film footage of Muncie and Delaware County from the 1910s through the 1970s. The collection documents local businesses and industry, family life, social activities, buildings, and events. For example the Indiana floods from 1913 and the 1930s, the groundbreaking for the Westinghouse plant (now Progress Rail) in 1959, the Delco Remy UAW strike in the 1970s, and a tour of Camp Chesterfield (spiritual camp) in the early 1970s are all documented in these newly digitized films.

The University Libraries’ efforts to digitize these historical films not only preserve the deteriorating films, but the project gives new life to resources that have been difficult, and sometimes impossible, for potential users to access. Outdated formats like these that reside in archives and attics contain valuable visual documentation of our past. By converting the films to digital format and making them available online in the DMR, the Libraries are providing revitalized resources for study and use by current and future generations of students and researchers.

The creation of these digital film collections is the result of a highly collaborative effort that has included Archives and Special Collections, Library Information Technology Services (LITS), and Metadata and Digital Initiatives (MADI).

These new collections will continue to grow over the next few months as more 16mm films are digitized and added. Please visit the DMR often to see what’s new in these interesting and historically valuable collections. You might see someone you know, or even a younger version of yourself.

For more information, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, or Michael G. Szajewski, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records.