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Historian and the Home Movie

Media Archive for Central England

In MACE’s blog this week they have been taking a look at the film ‘The Historian and the Home Movie’ produced for them by Electric Egg.

The 25 minute film has been made available for free as a DVD to subscribers of this month’s History Today magazine. The DVD can also be made available to academics, researchers, teachers and other educational and research organisations. See the end of this post for details.

MACE have focused on extracts from the film which highlights some of the material found in MACE’s Heritage Lottery Funded film search project, Full Circle, and explores how home movies and amateur films can be used by academics as important historical ‘documents’.

Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 1
James Patterson introduces MACE and explains the concept of the Full Circle Project

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 1 – James Patterson Introduces MACE from MACE Archive on Vimeo.

In this clip, MACE’s Director James Patterson introduces MACE and talks briefly about the Heritage Lottery Funded project Full Circle which ran from 2010 to 2013. In the project two curators worked closely with 69 communities in the East and West Midlands to search for film and tape which was deposited at MACE, digitised and catalogued. A DVD copy was then given to the owners of the original material and the community so that it could be used in local research, screenings and in education.

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 2
James Patterson reflects on the historical importance of home movies & archives

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 2 – James Patterson reflects on the historical importance of home movies & archives from MACE Archive on Vimeo.

In this clip, MACE’s Director James Patterson reflects on why home movies should be taken more seriously as a record and why the work that MACE does is important.

James says, ‘So often home movies are seen as something which is quirky and nostalgic and it doesn’t seem to me that it ever is taken seriously and goes beyond that level, and this is a medium… which actually is a serious research resource.’

He continues, ‘I think the other thing which is very important to say about them is that they are incredibly engaging. There’s no other kind of medium which shows the world in the way that home movies do. They open windows and shine lights in a very particular kind of way which is very hard to see in any other kind of medium. And I think that they really help to fill out the historical picture in a unique way’.

James goes onto to talk about the importance of archives in this context: ‘I think it’s hugely important that we recognise the archival value – the historical value – of this material and add it to the resources that we can make available to historians in future. If we value being able to understand where we have come from and what makes us what we are, and what helps us to understand how we should develop in future, then archives are absolutely fundamental, and in terms of our understanding of the last 120 years then the moving image is as fundamental as any other medium. That’s why I think what we do is important’.

Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 3
Taylor Downing & James Patterson view and discuss a home movie from 1966

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 3 – Taylor Downing & James Patterson view and discuss a home movie from 1966 from MACE Archive on Vimeo.

In this clip, MACE’s Director James Patterson and broadcaster/historian Taylor Downing, watch and discuss a series of home movie films, specifically Fred Alvey’s film ‘Ashbourne Shrovetide Football 66’, a home movie of the Royal Shrovetide football match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire where Sir Stanley Matthews turns up the ball.

James and Taylor discuss the home movie footage of the Shrovetide football match which was filmed for cinema newsreels for many years, the action being filmed from above and isolated from the action. What is different about this footage, Taylor considers, is that the viewer is actually placed in the crowd ‘This is a the point of view of somebody who is not actually running with the football but is certainly very close to the event, the game, and the people taking part in it, and so again it has got a different feel to it’. James describes this footage of the event as ’of it rather than at it’.

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 4
Historians discuss how home movies can bring another perspective to research

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 4 Historians discuss how home movies can bring another perspective to research from MACE Archive on Vimeo.

In this clip, MACE’s Director James Patterson, broadcaster & historian Taylor Downing, Krista Cowman, Professor of History at the University of Lincoln and Simon Gunn, Professor of Urban History at the University of Leicester, discuss how home movies can bring another perspective to research and study which complements the written, photographic and professional film record.

James shares his thoughts on how the use of home movies in research and education can enhance other research and study sources: “I never really see this stuff in isolation. It’s not as if this is the only record of what it is we’re looking at, it’s what it brings to enrich everything else we know about it. It’s another perspective. And taken with other kinds of records – the written record, still photographs – if you take the whole thing together then putting home movies into that mix can really enhance the understanding, just to help people’s research or especially in an educational context when we’re working perhaps together in schools. It really helps to engage people and it enriches that understanding in a very particular kind of way, and a way that you can’t get, from the more formal record”.

The Historian and the Home Movie – Clip 5 – Historians share their views on the home movie as a historic record from MACE Archive on Vimeo.

Obtaining a copy of The Historian and the Home Movie for Research

If you are an academic, teacher or researcher and would like a free copy of the DVD, please email info@macearchive.org or telephone 01522 837750. As we only have a small number of DVDs available, please advise us of your profession and the organisation you represent when you contact us.

DVDs are free, although a contribution towards postage would be appreciated. P&P is usually £1.50.
MACE is a registered charity and registered with Just Giving. A donation towards our on-going work would be appreciated. Visit http://www.justgiving.com/mediaarchiveceltd/donate to see our Just Giving page and make a donation.