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Film Preservation Project

J.L. Clark reel

 

The Collections at Midway Village Museum includes items of various materials, from wood to porcelain, fabric to paper, and I have the pleasure of taking care of all of these objects as Curator of Collections & Exhibits. We also have a collection of films, mostly 16mm, some 8mm, and most with minimal information on what is on the reels. Intrigued by these films, in 2013 I began doing some research on them. Not having that much experience with this media, I reached out to many archives nationwide to gain insight, as well as contacting local film collectors to compile as much information as possible. I found resources with the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) with amazing and detailed insight into the ins & outs of film preservation and grant opportunities.

After examining all of the films in the collection, I chose four films to include in a grant application to the NFPF. Between their content and their condition, these films were most in need of transfer. The NFPF awarded the museum a grant to preserve 2 of the films: footage of a Rockford Peaches game and interior views of J.L. Clark assembly lines.

Sent to film conservation firm Colorlab in December of 2013 and returned February 2015, the films were cleaned and transferred onto polyester reels as well as DVD copies made. Without the equipment to safely view the films in their former state, I had only guesses as to what the reels actually contained, so viewing them for the first time was very exciting.

The Peaches film shows clips from a game against the Chicago Colleens, a team that existed from 1948-1950. Playing at Beyer Stadium, the Peaches and the Colleens battle back and forth, racing from base to base while the crowd cheers on.

J.L. Clark footage shows factory interiors of employees working on assembly lines. The film dates to c. 1951 (based on film markings), and shows the packing of Ray-O-Vac battery cylinders, lids for Johnson & Johnson baby powder being assembled, and Cashmere brand talcum powder caps being readied for shipment.

The result of this project has been greater understanding of local industry and sport, furthering preservation of the past through conservation treatment of a fragile media, and the Museum cannot thank the NFPF enough for the opportunity. The Museum plans to include the films in the exhibits on the Peaches and Rockford’s Industry, sharing these great gems with visitors.

Shown here are a few screen shots from the films.

 

J. L. Clark employee loads box with Ray-O-Vac battery cylinders.

J. L. Clark employee loads box with Ray-O-Vac battery cylinders.

 

Employee loads fully assembled Johnson & Johnson baby powder lids into boxes.

Employee loads fully assembled Johnson & Johnson baby powder lids into boxes.

 

Peaches dugout, Manager Bill Allington far left, Chaperone Dorothy Greene far right.

Peaches dugout, Manager Bill Allington far left, Chaperone Dorothy Greene far right.

 

Peaches player at bat.

Peaches player at bat.

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