January 24, 2019 – “German Lessons and Solved Mysteries”

Hello, everyone!

At the archives, I never thought my other life experiences and learned subjects would play a role in my research in the Home Movie Collection. Since Miriam Rowe’s family frequently visited Germany, Switzerland, and Austria to visit relatives, my knowledge of the German language helped correct some of the left by my predecessors. Likewise, I finally confirmed the identity of the monument that baffled me at the beginning of the week. These highlights helped comprise my day.

After setting up the hard drive, I began reviewing the video file containing the footage from reels RM_83-RM_86. The graduating class of 1964, family reunions, weddings in 1965 comprised the events captured on film. Strangely, there were two copies of the footage with a slight change in quality. Did the team in charge of digitizing the footage try to correct a mistake made in the process? I may truly never know.

After finishing my notes, I moved on to RM_87-RM_88. Since the file contained footage of two reels and the notes left behind seemed too skimpy, I expected to flesh out some details relating to the file. What I did not count on was just how skimpy the notes were.

The first half of the footage mostly contained the family’s visit to Germany and Switzerland in the 1960s. Whoever filmed the trip seemed intent on filming as much content in the span of fifteen minutes as possible. The moments captured on film flowed as well as a series of random videos on Vine (about the same length, too!). In the midst of the confusion, I managed to make some corrections.

My predecessors noted a sign that was filmed while the family was on a boat tour in Switzerland. They noted an inscription that said “Dem Slencer Tells F. Schiller die Dakatone 1859.” Upon viewing the sign myself, I noticed some details that would easily confuse people on first glance.

Thanks to my German lessons, I correctly read the inscription as “Dem Sänger Tells F. Schiller die Urkantone 1859.” The “ä” is represented as “Æ” on the inscription and might appear as “LE” to the untrained eye. This is not uncommon. For example, the German “ß” represents “ss” and words containing that character can be substituted with “ss” instead. The inscription is a dedication to the famous playwright Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) and his immortalized play of Swiss folk hero, William Tell.

As previously demonstrated in this collection and others, cars can help place a time frame of a photograph or film. A blue car appeared regularly through the film, so I captured a screenshot of the vehicle and hoped Google’s image search would help me in my endeavors. Unfortunately, Google remained useless and I searched for a better service. Eventually, I discovered Yandex and I uploaded the image. When I clicked the search bar, my anticipation was rewarded.

To my pleasant surprise, among the results was the car in question. Upon further investigation, I learned the blue was indeed an Opel Rekord P-2. Opel developed the car between 1960 and 1963, so the car was fairly new at the time of filming. Pleased with this information, I felt I should try identifying the mystery monument with Yandex. My first attempt with the top of the monument did not yield the desired results.

I tried the image of the cannons sitting on the bluff overlooking the city. Lo and behold, the results solved the mystery at last. The monument rested at the top of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee (though General Grant commanded the Union forces at the Battle of Chattanooga, his tomb is nowhere near the city).  I buried my head into my hands in embarrassment as I had visited the site several times as a child when my family traveled to Minnesota. I should have known better!

As I continued my work, I realized I would not have time to finish my notes. With so much content captured on film, I did not even reach the fifteen minute mark (let alone RM_88). I managed to pack and return the hard drive and record to the stacks with minutes to spare. As I walked out, I bid everyone farewell and left for the day.

In review, I corrected some mistakes, identified a monument, and reviewed three reels worth of footage. Tomorrow, I resume revieweing RM_87 and hopefully finish RM_88 as well. Until then, enjoy the evening and stay safe! Bye!



Author: 57r3l574d

I am currently a Graduate Student at the University of Central Florida and simultaneously employed by the university library's Special Collections and University Archives as a Other Personnel Service (OPS) Student. Expected to graduate in 2019 with a History MA - Public History Track.

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