It’s time to pull out that VHS tape labeled “Maggie’s 1st B-day DO NOT TAPE OVER” that you partially taped over. The people at Home Movie Day want to take a look at it.
“People can bring their home movies on obsolete formats — we’re talking everything from 16 mm reels to VHS and Hi8,” says Jaime Mears, national digital stewardship resident for D.C.’s public library system. “Archivists will inspect the film and explain what steps [owners] can take to preserve it.”
The event, a partnership between the library system, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and social archiving group playbackthetape, is not just about saving baby’s first steps, Dad’s attempt at a Slip ’n Slide or grainy footage of Grandpa’s Edsel. It’s about what those things as a whole say about the culture at large. Home footage is especially important, Mears says, to communities that have been underrepresented in film, news footage and other media over the years.
“We chose to do [the event] at the Southwest library because it’s historically an African-American neighborhood,” Mears says, adding that families there may have home movies capturing aspects of the daily life of D.C.’s African-American community that mass media have missed. “We’re hoping people will come in and bring multiple generations’ worth of film.”
Mears emphasizes, though, that everyone is welcome to participate. “We want neighbors to come together and share their lives with each other.” Some of the home movies that are brought in will be screened for visitors (and you thought your prom-night hair was lost to the mists of time).
After your hair is thoroughly mocked, it’ll be time to take the next step: Home Movie Day archivists will show you how to digitize your films and videos, preserving their mockability for future generations.
Southwest Neighborhood Library, 900 Wesley Place SW; Sat., 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m, free.