Looking Back with a Master of Disaster

By Jaycee Chapman, Graduate Student, African Studies Program & Library Science

Eight young, mostly Black school children from Indianapolis were once so bad at chess, they called themselves ‘The Masters of Disaster’ in the 1980’s. While their game play improved, the name stuck.

Nearly forty years later, the producer of the film and a former-Masters of Disaster teammate reflects on their involvement in the 32-minute documentary that became a gem of Indianapolis history and went on to receive praise from international audiences and be nominated for an Academy Award in 1987.

The Masters of Disaster (1985) is a short documentary film produced by Sonya Friedman and Pat Wetmore Kellar and was part of the IU Audio-Visual Center’s (AVC) film distribution service. The AVC’s holdings came to IU Libraries in 2008 and made up the original core collection that became the Moving Image Archive in 2010. The Moving Image Archive received a National Film Preservation Foundation grant in 2013 to preserve the film by making new film prints of the documentary and provided a copy of the film to the Academy Film Archive, which did not previously have the Award-nominated documentary in its historical holdings. More recently in 2019, the Archive created a 4K scan of the film and digitally restored it, creating a DCP that has provided the newly restored print to international screening venues.

The film features the ‘Masters of Disaster’ and their rise to success in the elementary school chess scene. Elementary school teacher Bob Cotter, the chess coach at Indianapolis Public School 27, bands the kids together and teaches them how to play. By 1983, the team had played chess against the then-Indianapolis mayor William Herbert Hudnut III, met President Ronald Reagan at the White House, and competed in various chess tournaments nationally and abroad in Tokyo, Japan.

The Masters of Disaster at practice with Coach Bob Cotter.

The documentary opens after a successful national championship in which the Masters of Disaster placed second in the National Elementary School Chess Tournament of 1983. The team begins practicing for another shot at the national tournament in 1984, under a combination of pressure to succeed after rising to local fame and an overconfidence that inhibited the team’s discipline to practice.

The AVC produced hundreds of educational films during the twentieth century, including films produced from the 1950’s through the 1970’s about inner city life in Indianapolis that dramatized issues of poverty, racism, and ghettoization. Though The Masters of Disaster addresses the realities of attending an under-funded public school, Friedman and Wetmore Kellar share a different narrative in The Masters of Disaster. The producers allow the team to tell their own story and let their unique personalities shine through their love of chess, resulting in a pinnacle of sorts to the decades-long series of films produced by the AVC.

Friedman explained to me that the team had endured “several disheartening experiences” with film producers who lost interest in the team and dropped projects in the works whenever they lost a match.

“Win or lose, the film would be made, and finished,” Friedman said. She and Wetmore Keller both believed that the documentary would be of interest regardless of the team’s success because of the boys’ enthusiasm and charisma.

Bob Cotter’s role as a coach and motivator to the young chess players is also celebrated. He is portrayed first and foremost as a teacher who genuinely cares for his students and believes in their ability to succeed, as long as they put forth a genuine effort.

“One of the reasons I went to the Indianapolis public schools was to seek out these kinds of kids, and to try to do something constructive and meaningful in their lives – something that would have an impact on them forever,” he says in The Masters of Disaster.

Coach Cotter and the team.

It seems that Coach Cotter succeeded at his goal.

When Derrick Brownie, former-Masters of Disaster team member, picked up the phone, I was immediately greeted by his open and friendly demeanor. After filming the documentary, Brownie went on to graduate high school and join the military. Upon retiring from the military, he became an ROTC instructor and taught students how to play a game that he says made him who he is today: chess.

“I’ll never stop playing chess,” he explained to me. When looking back on his time as a local superstar and at the peak of the team’s success, he said: “We were like the Bad News Bears of the chess world – put all of our crazy personalities together, people couldn’t wait to be around us. We had fun together.”

Teammate Derrick Brownie in the final match featured in Masters of Disaster.

The team disbanded once the members entered high school, where many went to different schools and found new interests. Some managed to keep in touch and maintained close friendships. The team moved on to pursue differing paths but still heard from each other from time to time, Brownie said. He still occasionally hears from former teammates Steve Garrett, Anthony Allen, Dale Foster, and Curtis Carson. The team’s strongest player, Derek Thomas, known as Rabbit at the time for his quick chess moves, was recently released from prison. Thomas checkmated former Indianapolis mayor, William H. Hudnut III, in a match featured in the documentary. Teammate Corey Scruggs died of lifetime diabetes while Brownie was deployed in Germany. “Me and him were best friends,” he told me. “Beautiful, peaceful Thomas Petty,” Friedman remarked, was shot and murdered during the team’s high school years. 

Derek (Rabbit) Thomas just before he checkmates Indianapolis mayor William H. Hudnut III.

Unfortunately, the opportunity never arose for me to speak directly with Anthony Allen, former-Masters of Disaster teammate and current close friend of Derrick Brownie, but Brownie called him on a separate line while I spoke with him. 

“Hey, Crumb!” Brownie exclaims once Allen answers the phone. ‘Crumb’ was Allen’s nickname during the team’s prime “because he was always hungry”, Brownie explained. Brownie told Allen that I was also on the line and inquiring about The Masters of Disaster. “I was just telling this young lady what a bad friend you are for never checking up on me,” he joked, and Allen’s muffled retort was received on the other end. The two spoke for a few minutes and promised to make plans soon. 

The Masters of Disaster concludes with Brownie losing the match that would place the team in the national tournament. Defeat is palpable in Brownie’s eyes as he realizes his defeat, and he is filmed walking out of the gymnasium the match was held in. He told me about his reaction to this devastating loss and its being featured in The Masters of Disaster:

“Mr. Cotter taught us how to be good sportsmen. Even in the face of defeat, I didn’t give up, didn’t resign… You shake her hand, say good game, and move on. If you go back and look at that same scene,” he says, referring to when the camera follows him after his defeat and he is approached by a white chess student just before the scene switches, “his name is Andy Silverman. I beat Andy Silverman the year prior and he started crying so bad… I came second in the nation individually that year. That goes to show the chess world, how small the world was. He came up and still showed me love.”

Brownie being approached by Coach Cotter and Andy Silverman (left), team accepting award for 2nd in national championship (right)

Nearly forty years after the film’s release, both Brownie and Friedman look back on the filming of the documentary as an especially exciting time in the team’s history and a wonderful experience together. The film’s executive producer, Pat Wetmore Kellar, has since passed away.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Pat,” Brownie told me. 

Now retired and currently in the process of writing an autobiography about the impact chess has had on his life, Brownie divulged, “I’ve passed over from a ‘Master of Disaster’ to a ‘Beautiful Disaster.’”

The Masters of Disaster celebrates this unlikely Indianapolis team and documents their rise to relative fame as well as both the highs and lows they faced in its short 32 minutes. It won several awards in 1986, including a Blue Ribbon at the American Film & Video Festival, Best of Category in the Birmingham International Film Festival, and a CINE Golden Eagle. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1987. In 2018, the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive scanned the original negatives and A/B rolls of Masters of Disaster and digitally restored the film.

As Friedman reflected, “The documentary showed [The Masters of Disaster], truly, as great achievers and champions”.

You can watch the restored version of  Masters of Disaster through the IU Libraries streaming server  HERE

Experimenting with Babies: The Myrtle McGraw Collection

By Ben Parnin, Archivist Assistant

When you think of scientists conducting experiments you might visualize them running around in lab coats with beakers and test tubes. Babies are probably the last thing you associate with science experiments. I had not considered the possibility of babies being test subjects until I was introduced to the Myrtle McGraw collection at Indiana University Moving Image Archive. Before you imagine some cruel mad scientist’s, experiment let me give you some background to this collection and explain the person responsible for the creations of these films.

Dr. Myrtle Byram McGraw (1899-1988) was a prominent scholar and researcher of early child development. Born in Birmingham Alabama, McGraw attended Ohio Wesleyan University before obtaining her doctorate from Columbia University. After completing her Ph.D. in 1930, McGraw was offered a job as the associate director of the Normal Child Development Study and would continue in that role for the next 12 years. The study was a joint venture between Babies Hospital in New York City and Columbia University which secured long term funding from the Rockefeller foundation’s General Education Board. The study took place during what is known as the “era of the child,” a period when children studies surged across academic disciplines. Some of the major figures in the field at this time were John Dewey, John B. Watson, Arnold Gesell, and Lois Barclay Murphy to name a few.

Largely left to her own devices by her superiors, Mcgraw led several of her own research studies on child development. As McGraw began her research she decided to investigate a current debate amongst child development academics about whether children develop through learning or natural maturation. The debate was about whether a child learns skills or if they are born with skills that are naturally developed as they grow. This debate led her to one of her most prominent research experiments.

In order to test the debate McGraw subjected infant twin Johnny and Jimmy Woods to intense training to see if learning took place during infancy and at what age. As the control, Jimmy received normal infant care from research staff. Johnny on the other hand was subjected to intense training to see if he could develop particular skills. These tests included swimming, climbing, and roller skating. The result of the experiment was that babies can learn and develop skills at an early age because Johnny acquired these skills through instruction while his brother who did not receive training did not. McGraw’s research had an impact on the scientific community as it confronted the theories of prominent child development researcher, Dr. Arnold Gessell, who favored maturation over learning. Her research also altered academics’ perceptions of infants’ capabilities, as many child development experts had previously deemed tasks such as swimming and roller skating impossible for babies to perform.

During the course of her research McGraw filmed many of her experiments. These films were used to document her research and were later shared with other academic institutions. The films were also shown during her presentation at the 1958 International Jubilee Congress of Sports Medicine in Moscow.

The McGraw Collection contains around 100 film reels and a significant portion of these includes her filmed experiments. Her tests were designed to examine different locomotion skills in infants. One of her films even shows scientists studying babies’ memory by testing if babies could remember to come to an adult when given a sign. In addition, they also administer memory tests to see if a baby could locate certain objects.

When viewing these films, it may be shocking to observe the ethically questionable treatment of infants and children in her experiments. In several of the films you can see the babies’ distress as they hang from pull up bars or are struggling to swim. In addition to such ethically suspect testing procedures most of the babies were filmed nude during the McGraw’s experiment. These details have to be taken into consideration when we are assessing access restrictions and performing ethical archival practices. While writing this post I found that some of McGraw’s experiments footage had been uploaded to YouTube and the Internet Archive. Comments on these videos range from amazement of what infants are capable of to shock or disgust at the experiments taking place. One comment from the Internet Archive website calls the footage “creepy” and a “lawsuit waiting to happen”. While these comments convey valid concerns, they do not represent the fullest picture of McGraw’s research and her relationship to the children in her study.

Those with the most valid reason to be upset at the experiment were of course Johnny and Jimmy Woods and their family. Johnny and Jimmy were constantly subjected to McGraw’s experiments during their infancy and became the famous key test subjects in her most notable research. Her book, Growth, a study of Johnny and Jimmy and the film of the same title gained wide recognition from the scientific community as well as popular media in part due to the success of her training a baby to swim and roller skate. In particular the media focused on the differences between Johnny and Jimmy. The media misinterpreted and exaggerated McGraw’s research. It also represented Johnny as the superior athletic brother since he received most of the specialized training during the experiment while his brother Jimmy was portrayed as lethargic and temper tantrum prone due to the fact that he was the control. Each year news reporters would visit the Woods family to report on the twins’ growth and development. In a 1956 news article the twins were asked their thoughts on the experiment. Their main complaint was the media sensationalism of the experiment and how people continued to associate the experiment with their personalities and abilities growing up and as adults. Instances of this news sensationalism included a portrayal of adult Jimmy Woods as an “idiot” at his ice cream factory job. It is clear from reading these news articles and interviews that the experiment continued to follow them throughout their lives.

Despite the adverse effects of the experiment the Woods family maintained a mostly positive relationship with McGraw. A reoccurring question I thought about while watching these films was why parents would have allowed their children to be put through such rigorous testing. In the case of Johnny and Jimmy’s mother it was partially due to the conditions of the Great Depression. When asked in an interview about the experiments, Jimmy states that McGraw’s experiment offered their mother who was then a mother of eight free child care for them during the Depression. In other interviews, Ms. Florence Woods explains how she appreciated McGraw’s instruction on the child development process as it helped her realize how to take better care of her children. Reflecting on the experiments 20 years later, Jimmy insists that he still had nothing but respect for McGraw. The twins’ lasting relationship with McGraw can be observed when years later as adults they revisit the experiment and recreate some of the tests they completed as babies for McGraw’s film, Growth-A Study of Johnny & Jimmy.

While certainly not meeting the ethical standards of today’s Institutional Review Board, McGraw’s research and experiments were instrumental in the field of child development and enhanced the debate within the scientific community about child development through learning or natural maturation. As a woman researcher during the 1930s, McGraw was often confronted with doubts about the validity of her scientific work. Despite these doubts, McGraw successfully made an important contribution to our understanding of child development through her research and through her subsequent years of teaching at Briarcliff College. These films offer a glimpse into McGraw’s life as well as the nature of her work. While shocking in some aspects and amusing in others these films display their value as a key component of child development research.


“‘Conditioned’ Child Proves Superiority: Relation of Muscular Growth to Brain Development Shown at Clinic Here.” New York Times, Jan 16, 1935.

“Clinic Twins, 3 Thursday, Hope to Cut 2 Cakes: Johnny, Trained, shows it, but Jimmie Out- Sings and Out-Talks Brother.” New York Herald Tribune, Apr 15, 1935.

Dobrish, Cecelia M. “Babies Make the Best Teachers.” Parents’ Magazine & Better Family Living, Sept, 1972.

Dalton, Thomas Carlyle., and Victor W Bergenn. Beyond Heredity and Environment: Myrtle Mcgraw and the Maturation Controversy. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995.

“Ex-Clinical Twins Try Skating; They Fall, and so does a Theory” New York Herald Tribune, Oct 19, 1935.

O’Connell, Agnes N., and Nancy Felipe Russo. Models of Achievement: Reflections of Eminent Women In Psychology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.

“Scientific Twins Blase at Circus as they Celebrate 3d Birthday” New York Times, Apr 19, 1935. Senn, Milton J. E. “Insights on the Child Development Movement in the United States.” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 40, no. 3/4 (1975): 1–107.

Ubell, Earl. “Twins in 1932 Test ‘just Ordinary’.” New York Herald Tribune, Sep 13, 1956.

Finding Shakespeare

Tim Wagner, Assistant Film Archivist at Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA)

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts”

As You Like It.  Act 2, Scene 7

…and sometimes, the entrances are quite the surprise.  As a film archivist at Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA), my recent encounter with William Shakespeare and his Globe Theatre was just that, a surprise!

Working on Indiana University’s Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative (MDPI) phase 2, film digitization, I’m currently evaluating motion picture film prints and pre-print film elements of Teaching Film Custodians films for possible digitization.  Teaching Film Custodians (TFC) became a membership corporation of the State University of New York in 1938.  According to its original by-laws, the purpose of the company was to “advance and promote the scientific use of motion picture films for educational purposes…by cooperating with producers of motion pictures to further the educational value of motion picture films.”  The corporation provided abridged classroom versions of hundreds of feature films and television programs, and short educational films, for use within schools and universities; mostly adaptations of novels and historical features.  In the 1960’s TFC added resources for foreign language education.  TFC merged with Indiana University in 1973.  Today, several of the TFC films can be found in Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive.

Many of the TFC films I’m inspecting these days are abridged classroom versions of a 1950’s television series, Cavalcade of America, re-named Du Pont Cavalcade Theater in later seasons.  Sponsored by the DuPont Company, “Maker of better things for better living, through chemistry”, this 30-minute anthology drama television series documented historical events using stories of individual courage, initiative and achievement, emphasizing humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation.  Airing on network television for five seasons (1952 – 1957), this series originated as a radio broadcast in 1935, intended to improve DuPont’s public image after World War I.  A post-war investigation concluded that DuPont had made a fortune profiteering in the war.

While inspecting 17 reels of 16mm projection prints and 16mm & 35mm pre-print film elements for “Decision for Justice: John Marshall and the Supreme Court”, a TFC abridged classroom version of the Cavalcade of America television series episode, “Decision for Justice”, I encountered several reels of 35mm negative picture and sound elements for the television series episode itself. 

While most every reel of film which I inspected matched the information written on the film can, I did have one surprise in store for me.  Within the film can labelled “Decision for Justice – Mixed Master”, I was expecting to encounter yet another black and white negative or interpositive film.  As I unspooled the end of the 35mm film reel on my inspection bench, a color composite (sound and image) positive film revealed itself.  Surprise! 

I soon realized too, that this was no ordinary (chromogenic) color film print, but a Technicolor dye transfer print.  Cool!  What makes Technicolor film prints different than standard motion picture color film, is that the color is not embedded within the film emulsion via dye couplers, which fade over time, but rather, a series of permanent color dyes which are “stamped” directly onto each film print through the imbibition process, using individual matrices for each color (cyan, magenta, and yellow).  The result is a color film print which doesn’t fade. After documenting the physical attributes of this misidentified film, I had to figure out what it was, since there were no titles at the head.  Sandwiched between an aerial view of centuries-old London (image above), and scenes of people in centuries-old clothing styles milling about the innards of a theater, a vital clue appeared; a banner hoisted above the rooftop, sporting the phrase, “The Globe Playhouse”.  Aha! 

Turning to that ever-resourceful internet search, a combination of “The Globe Playhouse” + Technicolor film yielded the answer: the 1944 British Technicolor feature film “Henry V”.  A plot description in the Wikipedia entry confirmed the images present at the beginning of the reel, which proved to be the prologue of the film.  Marking the directorial debut of Sir Laurence Olivier, who also co-produced and starred in the film, “Henry V” was the first Technicolor film adaptation ever made of a Shakespearean play, shot with the only 3-strip Technicolor camera in the UK at the time.  Made near the end of World War II, and intended as a morale booster for Britain, the film was partly funded by the British government.  Widely considered among the best film adaptations of Shakespeare’s work, “Henry V” earned Olivier an honorary Academy Award for “outstanding achievement as actor, producer, and director.”

A Title Search within our custom film database, filmdb, revealed 16 reels of 16mm film of “Henry V” within our holdings; likely all projection prints.  Were this but the end of the story…

As I continued inspecting the reel, another surprise awaited me; a metal clip designed to fasten two pieces of 35mm film together.  Very interesting.  I had not encountered such a device before.  Stamped into the surface of the clip was the following information, “R.C. MERCER FILM PATCH”, with a third line of text partially cut off, “LOS ANGELES”. 

Another internet search led to the June 1, 1920 patent application for the Film Patch by Raymond C. Mercer of Los Angeles, CA.  The illustrations on the patent application, which was approved on August 30th, 1921, clearly show a clip designed to engage four perforations of the film.  The clip I had encountered was obviously cut in half, engaging only two of the perforations, and thereby cutting off part of the “LOS ANGELES” text.  Fortunately for me, I was encountering the top half of the clip, carrying the text information which allowed me to identify it.  Another mystery solved.

But wait, there’s more!

Further inspection of the 35mm Technicolor composite footage revealed a mid-reel segment of silent, color-faded film featuring graphics of William Shakespeare, a circa 1600 map of London, and line drawings of the Globe Theater.  What is this doing here?  Following this segment, the film appeared to repeat some of the footage from the head of the reel, along with some additional footage.  The film ended with another segment of silent, color-faded film featuring graphics, and an end title, “Additional commentary by the Committee of the National Council of Teachers of English to cooperate with Teaching Film Custodians. Narrator, Rod Colbin.”  Hmmm.  The plot thickens.

A search within the Teaching Film Custodians’ February, 1954 “Films For Classroom Use” catalog did reveal a TFC release of a Shakespeare film adaptation, but that was “Romeo and Juliet”.  Dead end (as it were).  Fortunately, I did spy one further clue in the film print, which was key to identifying this film.  The black lab leader at the tail of the reel had the words, “Shakespeare’s Theater” etched into it.  Time for another trusty internet search.  Searching on “Shakespeare’s Theater” revealed countless entries regarding the Globe Theater in London.  Adding “Teaching Film Custodians” to the search yielded one profitable result: a page on the Internet Archive for the Teaching Film Custodians’ 1960 production of “Shakespeare’s Theater”.  Hurrah!  This web source, which also includes a viewable file of a heavily scratched print of the film, allowed me to positively identify the 35mm element I was inspecting and see the titles which are missing.  Score!

A Title Search on “Shakespeare’s Theater” in filmdb revealed seven Title Records, encompassing 25 reels of film.  Consisting primarily of 16mm material, these reels have now been requested and added to my work que, proving that I don’t have to go looking for trouble, it finds me!  The revelation of seven Title Records for the same film provided the opportunity to merge them, thereby cleaning up our database a tad more; one of the many benefits of the MDPI phase 2 project work.

Based on the information I gathered about this film, the Summary in our filmdb Title Record now reads, “A Teaching Film Custodians film about the presentation and conventions of live theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, circa 1600. Incorporating footage from the prologue of the 1944 British Technicolor feature film, “Henry V”, directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier, and graphics, this film illustrates the location and appearance of the Globe and Rose theaters, the activity before a typical presentation, where the audience was seated, and the manner in which the Globe Theater was used. We see the audience entering the theater, gallants taking their places on stage, the orange girl and cider man hawking their wares, and the actors preparing for their entrance. Concludes with the curtain parting and the chorus reciting the prologue.”

This adventure represents one of the many discoveries encountered while working on the MDPI phase 2 project.  One more puzzle pieced together, a very satisfying aspect of my work on Indiana University’s Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative.

Filming the World We Want (Part 2)

Please enjoy part one of a two-part guest blog from Dr. Catherine Bishop, who has been researching IULMIA’s collections remotely, by accessing digitized films from the New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum, which aired on public television in the 1950s. The IU Libraries Moving Image Archive is thrilled to be able to provide these materials (over 56 titles!) at a time when access to archives is severely limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently efforts underway to digitize remaining items from this series, so that Dr. Bishop and future researchers may continue their work.

You can watch full episodes of The World We Want and other National Educational Television (NET) programs featuring The New York Herald Tribune Youth Forum HERE

Helen Hiett Waller

I had heard a lot about Helen Waller from delegates in interviews and in archives. An award-winning wartime correspondent, she was the face of the Forum until her tragic death in a climbing accident in 1961. She polarized people. Some delegates remembered her as kind and encouraging, others as a strong and forceful character, with a journalistic eye for a controversial story. Many said she was a good moderator of the debates, drawing out some people, always with an eye for where she wanted to take the discussion. Others thought she had favorites – she liked the articulate, smart, argumentative delegates, able to hold their own with interesting ideas in English. She could be condescending and dismissive. At the same time, some of the quieter delegates, whose English was not so proficient, also remembered her as motherly and undemanding, suggesting that she certainly regarded all of the delegates as distinct individuals. Whether she accurately discerned who could withstand her more aggressive style was less clear.

Even having heard all of this about Helen Waller, it was not until I saw her in action on film that I really understood what people had been telling me. I could see why some delegates from countries in which women had less of a public role might have been astounded by her outspokenness. She epitomized the modern American career woman.

Watching a film from February 1954 I had to remind myself that she had given birth to her third child barely a month earlier at the age of 40. She looks a little tired but otherwise cheerful and professional. She is not glamorous but smart. Her dark hair is neatly coiffed and under control. Five years later in 1959 she suddenly looks much more than five years older. She is almost frumpy, her hair not as dark, the lines on her forehead more pronounced. But she is still in charge, and her comments are as sharp and penetrating as ever.

The 1959 program featuring one girl from Japan and three boys from Iceland, Denmark and the UK revealed Helen Waller in full interrogative mode. She did not allow any of the delegates to get away with bland generalizations or lazy answers. They were invited to support their arguments with evidence. ‘Why do you say that?’, she would ask… Do you really mean that’… ‘But doesn’t that contradict what you just said?’. She was not unfriendly, all was accompanied with smiles and much laughter, but she was persistent. I wondered, as I watched, how easy I would have found this as a 16-18 year old, even as a native English speaker. For she gave no quarter, even to those delegates whose first language was not English. So the UK delegate had no problems (he would later become a diplomat and was clearly honing his skills here); neither did the Danish delegate, who admitted to speaking several languages. The Icelandic delegate was relatively quiet, but it was the Japanese girl who was seriously impressive. Her English was good, but not as good as the others. She defended her position (supporting arranged marriages!) against articulate and forceful critiques from the boys and probing questions from Helen Waller. The best moment, however, was when Helen asked what Americans had wanted to know from the Japanese delegate. They asked me ‘How do you like America’, she said, and, although she thought that was ‘not an easy question to answer in a few minutes’, she told them ‘I love it’. ‘But’, she added, ‘I think that Americans are too easily satisfied with my answer’. In Japan, she added, people would not be satisfied with such a ‘simple’ answer, neatly encapsulating the comparative sophistication of the US and Japan (and in a suitably subtle and sophisticated way!).

The Thrill of Recognition

The digitized films were particularly useful for my research in revealing Helen Waller in action, and for the serious business of analyzing teenagers’ opinions at the time and assessing how they were co-opted into the business of American soft-power.

The utter charm of these films, however, lies in the fact that I now know many of these delegates. Not only does this mean I have had the opportunity to send them copies of the films, and they have been delighted to revisit their earlier selves, but there is the thrill of recognition when I see the younger versions of the fully formed and very impressive adults I have met.

The teenager perfecting the art of persuasive argument which will prove useful in his career as a diplomat is instantly recognizable, as is the ebullient Dane. When an Afrikaans girl exclaims over her struggles with English her voice is exactly the same as I hear, 65 years on, brimming with vitality and fun.

The films can also be a useful corrective to the oral history interviews I have conducted. I interviewed an Australian who remembered the social time he had at the forum – he wasn’t especially politically aware, he said. The films tell a different story – of an articulate boy with strong opinions, with hints of the lawyer he would become. Oral histories rely on memory and on reflection, they are told with a self-consciousness of being recorded, and with the benefit of hindsight. The films are also performance, as constructed as the interviews, but in a different way. The delegates and the topics have been chosen to be provocative, Yugoslavian advocate of communism set against South Korean capitalist, Israeli and Arab delegates sat on the same panel. These young people are full of confidence and hope. They were the chosen ones, showing what they hope is the best of themselves, not yet fully fledged, just learning to spread their wings.

These films are a window into 1950s youth culture and international politics. They illustrate how much the world has changed as well as how much it has remained, at times depressingly, the same. Perhaps the world could do with more of that hope, vitality and enthusiasm today.

Dr Catherine Bishop is a historian and postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University in Australia, writing a history of twentieth-century Australian businesswomen. She is the author of the award-winning Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney (NewSouth 2015) and of Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand (Otago University Press 2019). With Jennifer Aston she has co-edited Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective (Palgrave 2020). She is working on a biography of Australian missionary Annie Lock and researching the history of the New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum.




FB: @catherinebishophistorian

In case you missed it, make sure to read Part 1 of Dr. Catherine Bishop’s research on the Herald Tribune Youth Forum films in the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive.

Filming the World We Want (Part 1)

Please enjoy part one of a two-part guest blog from Dr. Catherine Bishop, who has been researching IULMIA’s collections remotely, by accessing digitized films from the New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum, which aired on public television in the 1950s. The IU Libraries Moving Image Archive is thrilled to be able to provide these materials (over 56 titles!) at a time when access to archives is severely limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently efforts underway to digitize remaining items from this series, so that Dr. Bishop and future researchers may continue their work.

You can watch full episodes of The World We Want and other National Educational Television (NET) programs featuring the Herald Tribune Youth Forum HERE

The Forum

What happens when you gather together 30 bright teenagers from across the world and ask them to discuss the education, women’s rights, and world peace? What happens when a 16-year-old Afrikaans girl discusses apartheid with a black African boy from Ghana? Or when an Israeli girl talks to boys from Syria and Jordan?

These conversations and more were the experiment of the Herald Tribune World Youth Forum that existed from 1947 until 1972 and even outlived the newspaper’s expiration in 1965. The Forum was the brainchild of Helen Rogers Reid, the New York Herald Tribune’s owner and editor. It was loosely based on the ‘adult’ Herald Tribune Forum, which originated in the 1930s, bringing together world business and political figures to discuss relevant issues in front of a general audience in New York. But the post-WWII era saw a new emphasis on youth as the means to securing world peace, with the New York Daily Mirror and the New York Times Youth Forum programming similar events. The Herald Tribune Forum also sparked a copycat program run by the Daily Mail in Britain from 1949 to 1951. Concurrently, this was also the era of mass gatherings of socialist youth organized by the USSR.

I have been researching the Forum for eight years, after discovering the youthful diary of my aunt who had just died. I knew she had won a trip to England as teenager; I had no idea that she had been a delegate to the Daily Mail World Youth Forum in London. What began as a small personal project expanded dramatically when I realized that there was an American version lasting 25 years. I have been tracking down documents and photographs in archives across the U.S, and of course enjoying the Herald Tribune newspaper articles. Even more rewarding, I have interviewed over 100 of the 800 people who attended the forum – now 65-90 year-olds, they reminisced about their experiences 50-70 years ago. I have also been privileged to connect with the Herald Tribune World Youth Forum Alumni Association for delegates, have contributed to their newsletter and attended some of their reunions in Sorrento and Singapore.

The Herald Tribune World Youth Forum was the most ambitious and longest lasting of all of these initiatives. However, little known about such programs in the U.S.. National committees around the globe selected (usually) one 16-18-year-old representative, who flew to the U.S. for 3 months. Based in the New York area, representatives stayed with 3 or 4 different American families, attended a variety of high schools, and travelled to Washington, meeting significant political figures, often including the incumbent American President. The culmination of their visit was a huge ‘high school forum’ held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in March, where the delegates all performed and discussed a variety of topics in front of an audience of high school students. The Herald Tribune featured delegates’ activities in its pages for the three months and had a special 5-10 page feature for the Waldorf Astoria event. From the early 1950s the delegates also met in smaller panels for a series of discussions on topical issues. Initially these were broadcast on radio and later, beginning in 1953, on television.

The idea behind the forum was to encourage international understanding and co-operation by showing a handpicked group of young people from around the world that they were not so different after all. The organizers banked on these teenagers being their nation’s best and brightest (or in some cases, the most well-connected). They were expected to be potential future leaders and many would become influential in politics, business, education and religion. In addition to encouraging international understanding there was another motive. The newspaper organized the forum and provided a small amount of money for the program—mostly for the salary of the organizing staff. It relied on schools and families to host the students. It also cleverly obtained sponsorship from Pan Am and TWA airlines, which flew the delegates from all around the world for free. Scholastic Magazine was also a sponsor. But most important was the support of the U.S. government. Although respective national ministries of education selected delegates, the cultural attaches of American embassies and the United States Information Service assisted student representatives during their tours.

This was a ‘hearts and minds’ initiative, one of the many ‘soft power’ weapons in the Cold War, designed to showcase the U.S. to foreign representatives. It was, however, slightly more sophisticated than the mass Communist rallies, in that the flaws of American society, such as segregation, were not withheld. This was also an exercise in world citizenship. The students were to be ‘walking textbooks,’ youthful ambassadors, educating American high school students about the world.

The countries invited to send delegates were friends and allies of the US (the UK, continental Europe, Canada) but also countries in which the US hoped to maintain its influence (e.g. Korea, Japan, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Israel, Egypt, Brazil, Argentina). There were notable absentees. The only Communist country was Yugoslavia. Others do not seem to have been invited. The lack of Communist bloc countries provoked little comment; publicity around the forum made much of the fact that delegates came from ‘all over the world’.

The Films

One of the greatest thrills has been my access to the films in the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA). A serendipitous Google search during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown uncovered this gold mine of content related to the Forum. IULMIA holds a number of the televised programs broadcast in the 1950s.

The extensive IULMIA holdings include examples from each year between 1954 to 1959 and provide an historical snapshot of the Youth Forum. The films are indeed worth their weight in (research) gold.

Previously, I had seen photographs of the delegates and their activities, as well as a couple of stills from programs. I had seen lists of the program topics and the participants. I had even found a few scripts of what the delegates said. I had met some delegates who could remember what they discussed (and others who could remember the fabulous social time they had but who could not recall the issues discussed at the Forum—they were only teenagers after all!) But nothing prepared me for the delight of hearing their voices and seeing them in action. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then moving images are worth a million. The program depicts a staged setting with delegates performing their ambassadorial roles to the best of their ability and viewers get a sense of the participants’ personalities as they interact with each other and with Helen Hiett Waller, the formidable moderator and administrator of the Forum.

Panel participants were selected based on the topic being discussed as well as their ability to articulate ideas in English. Some delegates participated more often than others, but all appeared at least once. It was educational television that aimed to be entertaining and provocative. The programs were geared toward high school students. Popular topics for this age group included comparing the American education system with foreign schools, discussing if American teenagers had too much freedom or if parents the world over were out of touch, and giving their impressions of the U.S. and the benefits of student exchange. The delegates also discussed less immediately ‘youth-focused’ issues: ‘Does the Key to peace in this century rest with non-white peoples?’, Communism, American’s global influence, Africa’s future, the status of women, religion, and the role of the United Nations.

The Yugoslav delegate was ensured a place in the annual program discussing Communism. Finnish delegates were questioned about their country’s relationship with the Soviet Union, and Scandinavian delegates often found themselves defending ‘socialist’ policies in their countries, much to their bemusement. The South African delegate invariably came under pressure over the apartheid system, while the British delegate was in the spotlight in discussions of decolonization. When interviewed many years later, most delegates recalled their surprise at being taken seriously. Their opinions were sought and respected. Some remembered feeling very unqualified to discuss issues of politics and international affairs, while others were in their element.

By 1959, the Forum had hit its stride. It was a well-oiled machine, both on and off screen. The programs’ format and production had been fine-tuned, changing over time. One year students are all sitting on the floor; in another, they are grouped around an armchair, but by 1959 they are behind a table in a boardroom-like setting, in front of place cards identifying their respective countries like a model U.N.. In 1954 the strains of a jaunty orchestral version of ‘Getting to Know You’ accompany images of a rotating globe before moderator Helen Waller introduces the Forum. In 1957 an opening salvo, in which each delegate gives a very scripted response to a set question, is followed by the theme again against a stylized group portrait of good-looking youngsters idealistically gazing upwards towards a globe.

In earlier programs discussions take more time to warm up. The 1954 program on ‘Education,’ for instance, is very stilted as the Australian delegate pronounces his critique, with carefully prepared and stage-managed props. (He had brought along examples of exam papers from both countries).

The discussion begins to intensify during an exchange about freedom of speech in the classroom. The Australian delegate has been making pronouncements on the superiority of his country’s education system and then Helen Waller pulls the rug out from under him in what is clearly a surprising retort, by reading out a starkly loaded question from one of his Australian exam papers.

But the program becomes truly interesting during the conclusion of the program when the subject shifts. The white South African delegate explains apartheid, defending the policy vigorously against the two boys from Australia and the Gold Coast (Ghana).

Dr Catherine Bishop is a historian and postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University in Australia, writing a history of twentieth-century Australian businesswomen. She is the author of the award-winning Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney (NewSouth 2015) and of Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand (Otago University Press 2019). With Jennifer Aston she has co-edited Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective (Palgrave 2020). She is working on a biography of Australian missionary Annie Lock and researching the history of the New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum.




FB: @catherinebishophistorian

Make sure to read Part 2 of Dr. Catherine Bishop’s research on the Herald Tribune Youth Forum films from the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive.

Go Behind the Iron Curtain with the Bernadine Bailey Collection

By Jesse Balzer

Bernadine Bailey (1901-1995) was an American travel writer from Mattoon, Illinois. Her travelogues – and other writings on health, medicine, and politics – were syndicated in widely-read publications such as Reader’s DigestToday’s HealthTravel, as well as newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, among others. She is also the author of over 100 books on a variety of subjects, most centered on travel and tourism around the world.

Film was an integral part of Bailey’s work. In addition to various home movies of daily life, our collection includes Bernadine Bailey’s travel films, photographs, and slides from her journeys around the world. These films reveal the extent to which Bailey utilized the moving image in order to document her travels and supplement her travel writing, as well as for exhibitions and presentations of her travels. In these films, Bailey’s camera often focuses on the people of each place, documenting their cultural practices and customs, their daily lives, fashions, and hobbies. While certainly Eurocentric and ethnographic in their orientation, Bailey’s films nonetheless offer a comparatively rare glimpse into the work of a travel writer, and an attempt to understand people and nations which may have been largely unfamiliar, at least at the time, to her American readers.

In addition to many shorter reels of Bernadine Bailey’s travels to Hong Kong, Malaysia, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, and elsewhere, our collection also includes several, approximately hour-long reels with their own titles and descriptive intertitles, most likely composed for some form of public exhibition or screening. In “Behind the Iron Curtain”, a reel from 1957, Bailey documents city and rural life in Leningrad, Stalingrad and several other places in the then Soviet Union.


In this first clip, citizens of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) visit the Russian Museum, standing in the park nearby. This includes the statue of Russian author Alexander Pushkin, erected in this same year for the 250th anniversary celebration of Leningrad. Unlike existing footage of the celebration, such as this newsreel, Bailey’s film focuses on the people relaxing in the park, not on officials, bureaucrats, and public-facing events.

Bailey’s approach to filming and humanizing the people of the places she visited was carried forward into her writing, her filmmaking practice aiding and informing her vocation as a writer. Her later book on the Soviet Union, The Captive Nations: Our First Line of Defense (1969), detailed a strategy which saw the people, those she filmed “behind the iron curtain,” as the key to anti-communist agitation and the promotion of democracy. This was further explained in an interview for the Chicago Tribune in August, 1969, which discussed Bailey’s book:

“Altho the subject is a dark and bloody one, Mrs. Bailey is not gloomy about the future. She sees the captive nations, because of their languages and histories and spirit of nationalism, as dividing the house of communism so that it will not stand in history… Mrs. Bailey contends that these people are a great asset to the non-communist world and the best alternative to nuclear war. She holds that they should prove to be our staunchest allies and our first line of defense in a war.”

In the October 27, 1957 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Bailey wrote about this month-long visit to Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Kharkov, Kiev, and Rostov, as well as outlaying farms and small towns. Bailey’s report in the Tribune, much like her films, focuses on the people, and in particular women, who make up what she described in The Captive Nations as our best hope against escalation in the Cold War. Her filmmaking, then, shows a fascination with the unfamiliar domestic lifestyles of foreign nations. In this way, her writing, much like her camera, is hardly neutral. As Bailey wrote in the Tribune after returning home from her trip: “Altho I had read that Russian women work like men, it nevertheless was a jolt to see them uncoupling coaches of railway trains, running street cars and buses, acting as flagmen at railway crossings, working on the right-of-way laying tracks, and digging ditches.” And take, for example, the clip below, in which Bailey observes several Russian women working on a farm.

Here is a comparative description in the Chicago Daily Tribune article:

“What with hard work and a diet made up largely of bread, potatoes, tough meat, and borscht, it’s small wonder that the Russian women are no glamor girls. Mostly of peasant origin, they are short, stocky, and overweight. Their role is not to make life gayer or more attractive but to help to achieve the stated communist goals. So why bother with girdles and lipstick, fancy hair-dos, and nail polish? They don’t. The occasional home permanent merely points up the effect of shabbiness and dowdiness. Their drab gray or black suits and their shapeless print cotton or rayon dresses are completely lacking in style.”

While certainly indicative of the anti-communist and patriarchal biases of the time, Bernadine Bailey’s work, both in print and in film, ultimately helped to humanize the people of often-oppositional nations and ideologies. Bailey’s films also reveal an interesting interplay between the written word and film, particularly in the travel genre. Finally, our collection of Bailey’s films brings additional awareness to non-theatrical women filmmakers and the ways in which they used the medium for their personal and professional lives.

See more of our Bernadine Bailey Collection, including travel films from New Zealand, Germany, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and more on IU’s Media Collections Online.

Attack of the Cardboard Box: A Story of Intracollegiate Collaboration between the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive and University Archives

Hello, Internet! Hello, IULMIA Fan Club members! My name is Amber Bertin and I am one of the Assistant Film Archivists working for the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA) on the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI), which you can read more about here. My role on the MDPI project is to inspect, identify, and make selection decisions on which film materials are sent to our digitization vendor or, to put it in terms more relevant to you, which titles and specific copies of titles you are going to be able to watch online at the end of this project. Some are even available right now! Check them out here. Today, I’m going to take you through a case study in my selection process – the processing of one of the boxes handed over to IULMIA by University Archives, but first some background:

For about a year now, I have been working on the Audio-Visual Center collection. The Audio-Visual Center collection is not only the archive’s largest collection, it’s also its core collection. From the 1910s through the 1990s, under various names on the Indiana University campus, the Audio-Visual Center (AVC) served as one of the largest distributors of educational films in the United States. AVC also produced its own educational films and several of the people associated with it were integral in operating the film distribution wing of National Educational Television, the pre-cursor to PBS. When the Moving Image Archive was founded in 2010, we took custodianship of this collection and since then, we have continued to discover more AVC materials spread across multiple units, departments, and locations around campus. As we find these materials, we have made a concerted effort to re-unify the collection. Our most recent acquisition was approximately 2000 films from University Archives.

When these University Archives materials came to IULMIA, I had been working through IULMIA’s AVC-produced prints and elements for several months and had started to notice some interesting anomalies. Typically, when I assess titles for MDPI candidacy, I am trying to put together what I colloquially refer to as a “preservation package”. This means I am looking for a composite print (a complete copy of the film that has sound and image together), an image element (a complete image negative or internegative that would have been the source of the image on the print), and a sound element (a complete and final mix optical or magnetic track that would have been the source of the audio on the print). There are normally several copies and several generations of varying quality and completeness of each category that I need to compare before making a decision on what is sent to our digitization vendor; however, these AVC-produced titles were different. Many of the titles seemed to be missing items. A title might have a print and an internegative, but not sound elements or it might have elements, but not prints, and so forth. Further, there were several prints that had print-through information from previous generations that I couldn’t locate. This meant I was having to move forward with a lot of incomplete “preservation packages” and/or with prints that I knew were potentially not the best copy in existence.

This all changed when the materials from University Archives started to arrive. When I started to look at these materials, I noticed that a lot of these items seemed to be the missing elements and earlier prints I was previously unable to locate. Additionally, a lot of brand new, previously unknown AVC-produced titles were among these materials. Essentially, I had a whole new treasure trove of materials with which to work and I was very excited.

Now, let’s talk about how the materials from University Archives came into IULMIA’s collections and what happens to those materials after they arrive. The initial conversations about the films moving started several years ago, but it wasn’t until I started processing the AVC-produced titles and discovered so many crucial missing items from our MDPI digitization packages, that re-unifying these materials under one collection holder became critically necessary. In order to make this happen, several people from both archives had to get together to discuss the logistics of the move – did both sides agree to this move, was it in the best interest of the collection, did this move advance the collection mandate of both archives, how was it going to affect researchers, how was it going to affect other types of access, how would we physically move the materials, how would we maintain communication about this collection, among many other considerations. My colleagues Andy Uhrich and Carmel Curtis, as well as Dina Kellams and Brad Cook from University Archives took the lead during this process, so I want to highlight their work and take a moment to say how much I appreciate working in such a great, collaborative environment with all of them. I also want to highlight the fact that University Archives did an exceptional job conserving these materials for the past decade and both the IU-community and the larger film scholarship community should be incredibly grateful for them doing so.

Next, we had to merge all of the existing University Archives metadata with IULMIA’s existing metadata system. This process is on-going as we continue to process, inspect, and collect additional metadata from these materials, but it started with a word document that looks like this:

That’s a sample page from the very long word document we received from University Archives detailing all of their existing metadata for these materials. One of our wonderful student workers, Kathryn Jankowski, took that word document and turned it into a spreadsheet so that I could more easily re-organize, filter, categorize, and otherwise quickly manipulate all of this data during my research and selection process. This task alone took several months of painstaking, meticulous work, but without it, my work on these materials would be impossible, so it’s not an understatement to call Kathryn my hero.

Two other student heroes who have worked very closely with me on this project and whose work I also want to highlight, are Zeynep Yasar and Dan Hassoun. At the end of the University Archives-AVC Re-allocation project, either Zeynep or Dan will have touched every single item we received from University Archives. After each item is pulled, Zeynep and Dan open each can, verify the title, and collect metadata about each item’s generation, base, sound type, color, length, and can size. They also perform AD (Acetate Deterioration) testing on any films suspected of having Vinegar Syndrome (the colloquial term for the chemical decomposition of acetate-base film stock because the film actually starts to smell like vinegar as it begins to decompose) and re-can each item in a brand new, acid-neutral, archive-approved film can. As they do this, they also take pictures of all of the original cans so that we can maintain records of not only what the original cans looked like, but also what was written on them. Plus, they re-barcode each item, which is a necessary step so that our lovely colleagues who manage the university’s special collections storage facility can accurately update their database by de-accessioning all of these items from University Archive’s custodianship and re-accessioning them with the new barcodes under IULMIA’s custodianship. All of this is an incredible amount of work that not only benefits the long-term health and longevity of these collection materials, it is also absolutely vital to my ability to efficiently work through these materials and make my selection decisions. For instance, if I’m looking for a picture negative for a particular title for which there are five entries on the spreadsheet, three of which Dan has identified as prints and two of which Dan has identified as black and white picture negatives, he has just saved me the time and labor of pulling and inspecting all five reels of film. Instead, I can just pull the two I know match the criteria for which I am looking.

As Zeynep and Dan process these materials, they update each line of the spreadsheet Kathryn made with the new barcode and the metadata they have collected. Additionally, before I started my MDPI selection research on these materials, I labeled and color coded every line of the spreadsheet based on several selection categories: high-value unidentified, general unidentified, missing AVC elements, missing AVC non-faded print, and skip. In order to do this, I researched each title to determine if IULMIA had any pre-existing materials and if we did, if any of those items had previously been assessed for MDPI selection. If they had been assessed, what, if anything, had already been sent to our digitization vendor and what was the quality of those materials? For example, was the print faded (the image looks red because most of the color has disappeared) and/or might the new University Archives materials contain a non-faded print? In order to track my progress, as I worked through the collection, I added two additional categories, “Clear” and “Select”, to indicate if I had chosen to send a particular item to our digitization vendor or not. Here’s an image of what Kathryn’s spreadsheet looks like today as we continue to assess these materials:

Currently, I am working through the “Missing AVC elements” category, which means I am looking for very specific items to complete a previously incomplete “preservation package”. Recently, I was working on a title called Land along the Water. You can view a pre-MDPI standard definition (SD), black and white version here and the 2k, color answer print we sent to MDPI here. As you will notice, the SD, black and white print was very scratched and the scan provides limited detail. Because we are going back to earlier elements and because we are scanning these elements at a higher resolution, we are able to not only better digitally preserve our collections, but also to provide access to better looking, more accurate digital copies of our collections. In the MDPI scan, you can now see the full-range of color and a higher level of detail in the image; and, because the color answer print we sent was in much better physical condition than the black and white print, you are much less distracted by scratches, dirt, and other physical damage.

As I was working through the materials University Archives sent over related to The Land Along the Water, I pulled all of the items listed on the spreadsheet with that title or similar titles. I pull similar titles as well because most of the previously collected title metadata for these items was taken from a direct transcription of the writing on the original cans, which is not necessarily the authority title we now refer to the film as. The film might have had a different title while in production or the person writing on the can might have used abbreviations, or any number of other combination of words to refer to the content that ended up being the authority title, so in order to make sure I am looking at everything for a specific title at the same time, I have to do some creative searching. When the The Land along the Water items arrived, instead of being a single item in a single film can, one of the items came in a cardboard box that looked like this:

This isn’t unusual for this collection. Previous archivists decided to consolidate the storage of and increase the security of these materials by placing up to twelve 400ft. cans in these sealed cardboard boxes. The challenge for me is that typically, these cardboard boxes are a bit of a grab bag – you don’t know what’s inside until you open it. On the spreadsheet, one box can have anywhere from one entry to twelve, meaning there might be a single title or twelve different titles inside. It is also possible that multiple reels will be inside a single can. Also, the box itself is barcoded, but the individual cans inside are not, so all twelve cans share the same barcode, which is an impossibility for both IULMIA’s internal database and the MDPI workflow, both of which rely upon a one item, one barcode standard. This is another reason why we are re-barcoding every single item – to conform these items to IULMIA’s cataloging system. Finally, these boxes being sealed when they arrive on my desk indicates that Dan and Zeynep have not handled any of these materials yet, meaning they have not collected any generational, conditional, or authority title metadata. I only have the original metadata sent over from University Archives to help me discern what is in the box. This usually includes only the barcode, accession number, box number, and title from the can, which in my experience with this collection is incorrect approximately 40% of the time. Sometimes items get misidentified, cans get switched, or writing on cans is hard to read. It happens in all special collections. This is why we “trust, but verify” and why Dan, Zeynep, and I always look for a title on the print itself.

The first thing I do when I open one of these boxes is organize the films based on the titles they are identified as on the spreadsheet/the text written on the can. In this particular case, there was one item for The Land along the Water, which was the reason I pulled this box. There were five items identified as Earth Science, which is actually not a single title, but a series. It also happens to be the series to which The Land along the Water belongs. Finally, there were six items identified as Camping and Recreational […] for the Handicapped, which is also not a single title, but refers to two different titles, Camping and Recreational Facilities for the Handicapped, which you can watch here, and Camping and Recreational Programs for the Handicapped, which you can watch here.  Although, I only pulled this box because of The Land along the Water, I still looked at the other 11 reels, particularly because there seemed to be unclear titling and I wanted to attempt to identify the correct title so that we could have accurate metadata. Further, these other titles were marked on the spreadsheet as titles that needed additional selection research. However, even if neither of these were the case, I would still look at each item while they were on my desk, at least to do a title verification and to collect basic generational and conditional metadata.

Next, I do a very quick initial assessment of the films. This involves examining the can, tape, and leader for any information that will help me further organize the films before I start inspecting them. I prefer to inspect all items of the same generation and type together, so this is the main identifying information I look for during this initial survey. Sometimes I also find interesting title information during this process, such as indicated by the picture below of writing on the leader of one of the Camping… films. It says “Bradford Woods”, which is the location of Camp Riley, the camp featured in these films. Discovering this text gave me an additional search term to potentially find additional material related to these titles.


After my initial assessment and organization, I do a more detailed analysis of the materials based upon what each title needs. For The Land along the Water, my notes on the spreadsheet indicated that this title was missing an answer print (the copy of the title that would have been sent to AVC directly from the lab for final approval before the distribution prints were made. These are typically in better condition than the distribution prints, so are preferable for preservation); but I also wanted to look in IULMIA’s internal database to confirm. According to the database, indeed we had already sent an internegative and an optical track negative, but we had also sent a color answer print in the time between when I made my spreadsheet notes and when I pulled this box. Further, based on the answer print’s inspection notes, it was in great physical condition and not faded. This meant I only needed to look at the reel on my desk to confirm the title and collect basic metadata, not for selection research. There was only one problem, when I put the film on my inspection bench, the text on the leader said this:

Those “EP” numbers are internal AVC production codes and the fact that there are two of them indicates that the footage on this reel most likely comes from two different titles. EP 186 refers to Plains and Plateaus and EP 187 refers to The Land along the Water. We don’t have a master list of production codes, so as I have been working through these materials, I have been systematically reconstructing a list of production codes by comparing the codes I find on cans and leader to the content of films and the titles on print. Luckily, when I came across this particular reel, I had already determined which titles were associated with EP 186 and EP 187. That this reel contained footage from both Plains and Plateaus and The Land along the Water was confirmed when I wound into the reel and found images like the ones below. The first is a shot I recognized as being featured in The Land along the Water, the second is part of a title card for Plains and Plateaus.







Both of these titles are part of the Earth Science series, so I assigned this reel the authority title “[Earth Science Series]” and noted that it features footage from both The Land along the Water and Plains and Plateaus. I also noted that the generation of this reel is camera original, meaning this reel of film came directly out of the camera and is thus unedited, raw footage.

Next, I decided to look at the five “Earth Science” reels. As mentioned earlier, “Earth Science” is a series of films, not an individual title, and there are approximately 30 entries in IULMIA’s internal database that are associated with this series. When I did my initial assessment of the films, this is what I found:

Unlike the reel of footage from The Land Along the Water and Plains and Plateaus, there was no information that pointed me towards a specific title – no title text, no descriptive text, no production code – just “Earth Science”, “Roll ‘C’”, and “HH192-”. These were the only clues I had to go on before I started my inspection. The “Roll ‘C’” text indicated that this reel was probably camera original, as labeling camera original reels like this was common for the AVC staff. The “HH192-” text confirmed it. That number sequence refers to the printed-in footage number closest to that end of the reel, the last number of which is obfuscated. At the other end, AVC staff would have also written a similar number such as “HH2207” to indicate the printed-in footage number at that end. Most commercially produced camera original negative and reversal film stocks have these printed-in sequences along the edge. They appear every foot and increase by one number each time they appear, essentially providing a count of the length of the reel, but more importantly allowing the editor to have a quick reference for orientation and for which shots they want to use. I can surmise exactly what this text refers to before winding into the reel because I have looked at so many AVC cameral original reels at this point, I have learned their internal labelling practices, which is one of the reasons why it is so important and beneficial that when I am doing my selection research, I work through one collection at a time. It allows me to learn the specificities of each collection, which pays dividends in my ability to efficiently identify everything and determine if it is a good candidate for digitization.

Because I knew these reels were camera original reels, I also knew that it was unlikely that these reels would contain any title information. Most likely, I would only find raw images. I decided to watch the files of the previously digitized “Earth Science” films to re-familiarize myself with as much of the content as possible before I attempted a title identification of the six reels of film on my desk. Unfortunately, even after doing this, I could not provide a specific title identification for any of the reels. They all featured shots from multiple titles in the series, which is common for many of the series in the AVC collection. The AVC staff would often shoot the footage for a series in its entirety at the same time and then edit that footage into several films, sometimes using the same shots in many different titles. So, similarly to the reel featuring footage from The Land Along the Water and Plains and Plateaus, I gave all five of these “Earth Science” reels the authority title “[Earth Science Series]” and provided brief notes about the content of each reel.

Finally, I moved on to the six reels identified on the spreadsheet as Camping and Recreational […] for the Handicapped”. I knew that these reels could be one of two different titles, Camping and Recreational Facilities for the Handicapped or Camping and Recreational Programs for the Handicapped, so one of my goals was to identify to which of these two titles each reel belonged. My other goal, according to my spreadsheet notes, was to find answer prints for each of these titles. During my initial assessment of these six reels, I discovered that one was a silent, image reel, while the other five were separate, full-coat, magnetic tracks, meaning they exclusively contained sound. None of the reels was an answer print, so I decided to simply attempt to identify them. I started with the image reel, which was labelled on the leader as “Bradford Woods Roll One”. As I examined the footage, I was able to definitively identify it as Camping and Recreational Programs for the Handicapped because the footage featured camp counselors leading the campers through various activities. This was confirmed by comparing the footage to the file of our previously digitized internegative. I was also able to determine that this was a reel of out and trims, or the footage that was removed from the final edit of the film.

Then, I examined the five separate magnetic tracks. As I had no images to help me identify the title, I decided to listen to the files of the previously digitized track elements for both titles to familiarize myself with the narration, dialogue, and music for each title. I then listened to the unidentified magnetic tracks on the archive’s flatbed viewer, which has a full-coat magnetic head:

Two of the magnetic tracks featured source audio and interviews with counselors from Camp Riley, the camp featured in the Camping… films, discussing their programs, meaning I was easily able to definitively identify these two reels as original recordings for Camping and Recreational Programs for the Handicapped. The other three reels offered surprises, however. Two of the reels featured interviews with three different men discussing boats, while the third featured a woman’s voice discussing the pelvic area and how it functions while dancing. It was immediately apparent that none of these three reels were related to either of the Camping… films and had been misidentified. Luckily, because I have been working with the AVC collection for such a long time, I am very familiar with the collection, so when I heard the interviews about boats and the discussion of the pelvic area’s role in dancing, two titles from the collection immediately came to mind, The Fourwinds Marina: A Case Study, which you can watch here, and Movement in Classical Dance: The Pelvic Area, which you can watch here. Even more luckily, we had already received the digitized files of the prints for both of these films from our digitization vendor, meaning I could watch and listen to the films to confirm if my theories were correct. After watching the digitized prints, I was able to confirm that the magnetic tracks featuring interviews about boats were in fact raw interview recordings from The Fourwinds Marina: A Case Study and that the magnetic track featuring a woman discussing the pelvic area’s role in dancing was the narration track for Movement in Classical Dance: The Pelvic Area.

After these title identifications, I had successfully completed processing one of the cardboard boxes moving from University Archive’s collections to IULMIA’s collections. I started with twelve reels in one box. Six of the reels were identified as “[Earth Science Series]” camera original reels. One was identified as outs and trims from Camping and Recreations Programs for the Handicapped. Two reels were identified as original source audio and interviews from Camping and Recreational Programs for the Handicapped. Two reels were identified as raw interview recordings from The Fourwinds Marina: A Case Study and one reel was identified as the narration track for Movements in Classical Dance: The Pelvic Area. Nothing was selected to send to our digitization vendor this time, but through the efforts of our colleagues in University Archives collecting the original metadata and caring for the films all these years, of Kathryn creating a working spreadsheet, of Zeynep and Dan re-canning and re-barcoding every single item, and of me using my detailed knowledge of the AVC collection, we were able to perform the critical task of positively identifying and collecting metadata for all of these reels, which will serve us greatly in our current and future efforts to conserve and preserve these films. Now on to the next box!

“Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf”: Discovering and Reuniting a Series

By Tim Wagner

It all began so simply: two unidentified 400-foot, 16mm prints. Thus began my adventure…

For the past year-and-a-half, as part of Indiana University’s Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative (MDPI) phase 2 (film digitization), I have been performing Best Copy work on Encyclopaedia Britannica short films. This work involves comparing multiple copies of 16mm film prints, of hundreds of titles, and selecting the best copies for digitization. As an assistant film archivist at Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA), I perform this work at the Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF), where the films are stored.

Inspection of the two unidentified film prints revealed their identity: “major area of speech, CONSONANT: (SH)-4” and “major area of speech, CONSONANT: (SH)-5”. Unusual titles, I thought. Well, the head credits on these 16mm films also revealed a series title, “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf”, presented by the John Tracy Clinic. What had I discovered? Time to check our film database FilmDb.

Frames from the film series “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf.”

Developed within the past couple years, Filmdb is a custom database for the Moving Image Archive created as part of the MDPI project. Initially populated with information imported from spreadsheet inventories, the records typically reflect basic information written on film cans, without the benefit of inspection or cataloging. Based on how films were identified, this can present some confusion. As I inspect films and gather information, I have the opportunity to properly identify them and begin populating/correcting Title Records and Physical Object Records within Filmdb.

A title search on “consonant” in our growing Filmdb database resulted in a close match to one of these prints, “CONSONANT: (SH)-4”, along with a Series Title, “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf”. Interesting. Casting a wider net, I performed a title search on the word “deaf”, revealing a mother lode of results: 41 related Title Records, along with several unrelated titles. Yikes! Among the 41 related records, I discovered two additional prints of this episode, “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf—Major Area of Speech: (Sh)-4” (missing the word “CONSONANT”, and with some different capitalization in the title). These database searches had just revealed four prints of the same episode, listed under three different Title Records, with three different variations on the same title. The shape of things to come!

Within the 41 related Title Records, the database revealed a total of 55 film prints for this series. So, I submitted a vault request for these prints and began their inspection. Little did I know that I had only scratched the surface.

Stacks of film cans of the series “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf.”

Produced by the John Tracy Clinic in 1974, “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf” is a series of 42 films designed to train teachers of the deaf in the difficult art of speech instruction for those who cannot hear. Located in Los Angeles, the John Tracy Clinic was established in 1943 by Louise Treadwell Tracy, wife of actor Spencer Tracy. After Spencer and Louise Tracy’s infant son was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss in 1925, Louise Tracy devoted her time and energy to studying how deaf children could be taught to communicate with the hearing and speaking world. She patiently guided her son, John, into an understanding of language and lip-reading. With her encouragement, he learned to speak.

In 1942, Mrs. Tracy responded to a call for help from other mothers of young deaf children by founding a daycare. Louise Tracy established programs to educate and offer emotional support to parents and their preschool deaf children, free of charge. The program incorporated into the John Tracy Clinic the following year with Walt Disney as one of the first board members alongside Spencer Tracy. Known today as the John Tracy Center and serving over 25,000 families a year, the Center provides parent-centered services locally and globally to young children with hearing loss, offering families hope, guidance, and encouragement. https://www.jtc.org/

Directed by Jan Haag, Film and Television Director for the John Tracy Clinic, the 42-film series was captured via kinescope and produced for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education. A kinescope is a motion picture film recording of a program from a video monitor (pioneered in the 1940’s as a means to preserve and re-broadcast television programs in an era before videotape). It’s interesting to note that Ms. Haag was also on staff at the American Film Institute, where she served as Director of National Production Programs, Director of the Academy Internship Program, and founder of the AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, a program in which women, including Joanne Woodward, Margot Kidder, Ellen Burstyn, Maya Angelou, Dyan Cannon, and Cecily Tyson, already accomplished in other aspects of filmmaking, could develop their directing skills.

You can watch the introductory episode to the series here: https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/kw52jg21k

Frame grabs from the introductory episode of “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf.”

And here’s a link to other films in the series which have been digitized through the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative:

While inspecting the film prints a month after my initial encounter with this series, I performed a title search in the Filmdb database on “teaching speech”, revealing five additional prints in the series. A week later, based on my inspection of those five prints, I performed a title search on “speech kit”, revealing two more prints. Based on some common text appearing in the Title Records of these seven film prints, I performed a title search on “tracy clinic”, revealing 34 Title Records. 33 of these records encompassed a total of 59 more prints, and one record encompassed another 57 prints. Yikes! So, I submitted two vault requests for a total of 116 prints. I certainly had my work cut out for me.

The following month, a title search on “tracy” revealed two more film prints, and a Series Name search on “teaching speech” revealed twenty more prints of nine episodes of the series. The series without end!

Stacks of film cans of the series “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf.”

So, where did they all come from? Good question! As a very young moving image archive within a 200-year-old university encompassing several campuses across the state, the provenance of collection material is not always clear or evident. The Educational Film Collection at IU was established before World War II as an outreach service of the Indiana University Extension Division. By 1945 it had nearly 500 films that were rented out for low fees to schools, public libraries, and organizations throughout the US. The collection grew to tens of thousands of 16mm films, and the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center became one of the largest education rental services in the country. The Audio-Visual Center was also the exclusive distributor of films produced by National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to PBS. In 2006 Indiana University ended its rental service, and the collection of about 50,000 reels of 16mm film and 7,000 videos came under the care of the IU Library System.

IUCAT, the Indiana University Library Catalog, has 42 records for the “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf” series, one for each episode, encompassing 59 film prints. The records indicate that the films were gifted to Indiana University Bloomington Libraries from Instruction Support Services, the successor department to the Audio-Visual Center. So where did the rest come from? In 2016, four students processed multiple cartons of Tracy Clinic film prints which had previously been stored off-site. Documentation indicates that the majority of these prints, identified simply as “Tracy Clinic Film“, were part of the Handicapped Learner Materials Distribution Center collection, which was distributed by the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center.

The Handicapped Learner Materials Distribution Center was one of two federal agencies charged with dissemination and distribution of educational materials for the Captioned Films and Telecommunications Branch of the Division of Media Services, U.S. Office of Education, Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. The Division of Media Services was responsible for administering contracts and grants for the utilization of media and technology and providing technical and material assistance to handicapped children, teachers, state and local administrators, handicapped persons and organizations engaged in providing quality education and other services to the handicapped.

What began so simply with two unidentified film prints blossomed into the discovery of 200+ prints of a 42-episode series, listed under 86 different Title Records.
• 5 episodes have 2 prints each
• 17 episodes have 3 prints each
• 1 episode has 4 prints
• 5 episodes have 6 prints each
• 8 episodes have 7 prints each
• 4 episodes have 9 prints each
• 2 episodes have 10 prints each

Stacks of film cans of the series “Teaching Speech to the Profoundly Deaf.”

In addition to identifying Best Copy for each of the episodes, the benefits of this work include:
• Identification of 207 prints as part of this series
• Consolidation into 42 correct Title Records
• Population of the Title Records
• Providing intellectual control of this series
The phase 2 work on Indiana University’s Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative is providing, for the first time, intellectual control over all the film collections, and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this important work!

– Tim Wagner, Assistant Film Archivist at Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA)

Biennial Audio Visual Archival Summer School (BAVASS), A FIAF and IULMIA Initiative

By Rachael Stoeltje, BAVASS Director and Director of the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive

This past May, for two weeks, Indiana University, Bloomington was visited by 50 professional archivists, filmmakers, scholars and film projectionists from 12 countries to participate in the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)‘s new training program–the first Biennial Audio Visual Archival Summer School (BAVASS)— a new multi-week FIAF training model built with a comprehensive curriculum of the existing issues in the field of audiovisual archiving and preservation today.

This new training model was developed as part of the FIAF Training and Outreach Program by Indiana University Moving Image Archive’s Rachael Stoeltje and FIAF’s Training and Outreach Coordinator David Walsh, with the support of FIAF’s Administrator Christophe Dupin. BAVASS has been built on earlier FIAF models and the advice of our FIAF predecessors. It has been made possible in large part due to workshops held around the world developed by FIAF’s David Walsh, and like those created in partnership with our colleague Shivendra Singh Dungarpur through his Film Preservation and Restoration Workshops in India.

The schedule for our program allowed for lectures, hands-on workshops, screenings, opportunities to meet with the school’s faculty and time to build networks among the students themselves. This year’s event started each morning with lectures on core issues. The lectures covered everything from Film Preservation and Digitization, the Technology and History of Motion Picture Film, Film Restoration, Video History and Digitization, Cataloging, Copyright, Photo Preservation, Audio History and Preservation, Digital Preservation, Open Source Tools, Film Programming, Managing Digitization Projects and the History of Film Archives with an overview of the early years of the field, to better understand who we are today as archivists.

In the afternoons, we offered small group, hands-on workshops, which students pre-selected prior to arrival. The very practical opportunities that were presented by the Film Handling and Identification workshops, the Film Projection workshops and the Small Scale, DIY Video Digitization workshops were praised by participants, as were the hands on digitization workshops for video, film and audio formats. Kara Van Malssen’s Simulated Disaster Response and Recovery, with a real life scenario and a great deal of salt water soaked media, proved instructive, challenging, and remarkably engaging. The experience utilized simulated narratives and scenarios encountered in the midst of an archival disaster, including the “theft” of a valuable item, as well as an “upset” filmmaker, whose collection the disaster impacted. The  situations were designed to simulate for participants the kind of chaos that can accompany these types of scenarios.

Susanne Schwibs’ Filmmaking workshop, in which students shot film on 16mm cameras and processed the film the same day using alternative processes, also received positive feedback–though, as with many of the workshops, the primary criticism was that the workshop should have lasted the entire day!

Rob Byrne’s Film Restoration workshop was eye-opening for some in that it offered new knowledge about the amount of time, (sometimes years), that is required to properly restore one motion picture film title.


One of the other workshop highlights was Storage and Environments for Preservation. This one included tours of the Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF) — the off-site cold storage vaults at Indiana University. The participants visited the core vaults with temperature and relative humidities measuring 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) and 30%RH–ideal environments for magnetic media, books and paper. The new ALF 3 was also part of the tour, with an entire floor devoted to motion picture film, an interior freezer for deteriorated acetate film, and a steady temperature measuring 38 degrees Fahrenheit. The vault tours and accompanying workshop on storage and preservation exemplified the core actions in which one can take part to preserve original material for the longest and most important part of archival care-taking. A bonus to this tour were the rides up to the 40 foot ceilings of the storage facility in which students could view the vastness of the collections from up high.

We were remarkably fortunate to have exceptional faculty who were committed to teaching at the summer school. This 38 person line-up included recognized experts in film, video, and other media archiving and preservation, copyright, cataloging, photo preservation, storage and more. We were grateful to have experienced trainers affiliated with IU who committed to share their expertise as faculty in the school. In addition to the IU faculty, the external trainers, who came specifically for our summer school included FIAF’s Training and Outreach Coordinator, David Walsh; AVP’s Digital Preservation, Disaster Response and Metadata Specialist, Kara Van Malssen; Yale University’s Photo Conservator, Paul Messier; CUNY’s AudioVisual Archivist and Open Source Specialist, Dave Rice; Independent Film Restoration Specialist, Rob Byrne; NYU’s Video Preservationist, Michael Grant, Independent Film Preservationist Ken Weissman, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s Digital Media Research and Access Specialist, Johan Oomen, and FIAF Historian and Senior Administrator Christophe Dupin. These trainers lent a wide array of talents, experience, and specializations to BAVASS, and we are most indebted that this rich body of experienced and qualified individuals in the field traveled to Bloomington and gave so generously of their time and expertise.

Evenings were filled with film screenings that specifically addressed many of the core topics being taught. We screened film restorations, which were introduced by the FIAF colleagues who restored them, such as Behind the Door (1919), introduced by Rob Byrne, and Tomka and His Friends (1977), introduced by Ken Weissman, who restored the film while working at the Library of Congress. Iris Elezi, Director of the Albanian Film Archive, which holds Tomka, was also a participant of the summer school. Other nights included screenings of films which told stories of saving our cultural heritage around the world in India with Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man (2012) and in the Congo with La Belle at the Movies (2016), introduced by the Director Cecilia Zoppelletto, who also participated in the summer school. The final category of films screened were films which use archival film to make new works. These films were FIAF colleague Julien Faraut’s John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (2018) and Peter Jackson’s film They Shall Not Grow Old (2018), which has received a great deal of media attention for its alterations of film with color and sound additions, and its transformation of World War I footage from the Imperial War Museum into a 3D motion picture. The Jackson film was followed by a lively panel discussion about the meaning of “restoration,” issues related to altering archival footage, and strategies for finding new audiences using historic moving image material. Panelists included FIAF/ Imperial War Museum’s David Walsh, IU President Michael McRobbie, and IU Libraries Moving Image Archive’s Rachael Stoeltje. The panel was moderated by Jon Vickers, Director of the IU Cinema. All films were screened at either IULMIA’s Screening Room or at the IU Cinema, and all screenings were well attended by the summer school, as well as members of the general public.

The school included tours to many of the special collections and libraries on the IU Campus, including the University Archives, the Archives of Traditional Music, the Black Film Center Archive, the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive and the Lilly Library, where Director Joel Silver and Head of Public Services Rebecca Baumann pulled remarkable treasures from the John Ford, Peter Bogdanovich, John Boorman, Pauline Kael, Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth collections. The students got to hold an Oscar and peruse Welles’ illustrated love letters to Rita Hayworth and were offered a rare glimpse at some of the Lilly Library’s rare books and manuscripts, in addition to all of the film gems.

To continue improving the program for future schools and to perpetuate the learning experiences it offers, we are working with a faculty member in IU’s School of Education to oversee and lead the evaluation process of this event and to create a collaborative learning module for BAVASS. The evaluation began during the summer school and will continue throughout the one-year follow up period. As part of this learning collaborative, students will followup the two-week school with online meetings to discuss their successes and brainstorm solutions to challenging problems they are experiencing. IU staff and expert trainers will also participate in these meetings to learn of the problems this network of participants are experiencing and to offer their advice. These collaborative meetings will occur monthly and will be supported through Zoom. This collaborative learning model allows participants to discuss emerging and timely issues and their solutions in collaboration with their BAVASS cohorts or with assistance from our expert trainers. This collaborative process will continue for 12 months to ensure that the benefits of the training endure and are disseminated more widely.

The primary goal of the 2019 summer school was to educate a new team of archivists whether they were in mid-career, at the beginning, or simply wishing to advance their knowledge. Around the world, in small archives and large, in national institutions, cinemas, academic institutions, or private collections, the goal is the same. We hope that upon completion of our summer school that the participants returned home well grounded in archival principles and practice, having gained the knowledge and skills to preserve and care for collections around the globe, now knowing the necessary steps to provide access to these collections–whether in a cinema, through programming and projection, for individual viewing of original analog material, or online, after learning best practices for digitization, (when legally able to do so consistent with rights issues). At the end of the program, we believe we returned well-trained archivists to their home archives–or set them on a path to start work at a new archive–to preserve, make accessible, and save our world’s cultural heritage on film, video, audio, and digital formats.

We intend for the Biennial Audio-Visual Archival Summer School to continue in the future and we plan to offer this program every other year, possibly in locations around the world, in order that it may have the largest impact possible. The evaluations and ongoing training will allow us to customize the program and we will develop a packaged and detailed program which can serve as a model for future schools.

FIAF and the the FIAF Training and Outreach Program, along with tremendous support from IU and the IU Libraries made this event possible. Thanks to both for their financial support, which allowed us to bring all of the talented faculty to Bloomington to participate and to offer this program at an affordable rate for participants. In addition, FIAF also most graciously offered three scholarships that allowed individuals to come to the program who might not have been able to participate otherwise. Enormous thanks to FIAF and to David Walsh and Christophe Dupin in particular for this support and partnership to have made this BAVASS so successful.



Processing Update on the Alan Lewis Collection

By Caleb Allison, Associate Instructor, PhD Student, The Media School 

As the Alan Lewis Collection continues to be processed new and exciting discoveries continue to be made about the diverse collection of motion picture technologies ranging from the 1920s up to the 1980s. For one, we’ve learned that early in his career Alan Lewis worked right here in Bloomington, IN! Lewis worked for the Public Television Library (PTL) of PBS between 1973-74. PTL worked closely with the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center (IUAVC), a precursor to the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive, and WTIU Public Television to acquire nonlocal TV programs for national distribution. Throughout his long career with motion pictures Lewis also worked as a TV producer and director, and eventually Director of Programming, for WEDU-TV out of Tampa, Florida, and as the Director of the CBS News Film and Videotape Archives.

Most recently Lewis worked for the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. Eventually, Lewis started collecting the very technologies making the images he oversaw during his career. Amassing a collection of over 200 cameras, projectors, viewers, and editors, along with many of their original cases, sales boxes, instruction manuals, and accessories, the diversity and breadth of his collection offers an important and unique snapshot of motion picture history.

One of the true gems of the collection is a 16mm Ciné-Kodak Model B in ostrich leather with matching case. In production from 1927-1931 the Model B was the Cadillac of amateur cameras. The 1928 edition of Amateur Movie Making lists the price of the ostrich leather option at an additional $75. The standard Model B retailed for about $225, bringing the total price of the ostrich edition to a cool $300. Inflated for today $300 becomes $4,300!

The cleaning and testing of these cameras has been supplemented with motor recordings when possible. Amazingly, this Ciné-Kodak still runs after 90 years and has a beautiful purr you can listen to here:

Here’s a small sample of some other sweet motor sounds from the collection:

A selection of moving image technologies from the collection are part of two new exhibits located in the lobby of the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA) and the ground floor lobby of the IU Cinema. The Ciné-Kodak in ostrich leather can be viewed at the Archive. These exhibits seek to reveal the incremental evolution and vast diversity of amateur and home moviemaking equipment, as well as its beauty. From the extravagant ostrich leather casings of the 16mm Ciné-Kodak to the industrial portability of the 8mm Revere series exists the aesthetic blending of art and utility. The collection not only hosts a diversity of motion picture cameras, but a selection of their original cases and even sales boxes, as well as projectors and viewer/editors. The collection represents an important form of moving image history and technology outside of commercial Hollywood production. These are the objects that captured and shared the everyday, the familial, the nontheatrical, and so much more.

Come visit the display case in the Moving Image Archive space on the ground floor of Wells Library!

One of my personal favorites is the Super 8mm Yashica Super-800 Electro camera. Produced between 1970 and 1974, it has an atomic-age look reminiscent more of the 1950s than the 1970s. Sporting a sleek, all-black camera body, retro graphics, and colorful dials, including a seemingly arbitrary but super-cool 1950s atom graphic on its speed dial, bright green battery check light, and baby blue footage counter, it stands uniquely apart from its collection counterparts. The Yashica Super-800 is also part of the IULMIA exhibit, and its progenitor, the Yashica Super-60 Electronic, can be found in the IU Cinema’s exhibit.

Moving forward with the collection the Moving Image Archive plans to preserve and maintain the working order of the projectors and cameras while restoring those that can be fixed. They are undoubtedly beautiful machines but many of them are also functional, and their exhibition as well as their utility will be used to offer experience and education to students and film lovers alike.