February 22, 2019 – “Details: They Are Important!”

Hello, everyone

If a term seemed more appropriate for my shift today, then the phrase “deflated hype” certainly fits. As previously mentioned in past entries, Ms. Rubin assigned me to take over Kryslynn’s responsibility of shelving books on Mondays and Fridays. I passed the Library of Congress Classification Test for a second time and prepared myself for today. To my surprise (and slight disappointment), I checked the cart and the cart contained no books for me to shelve. Fortunately, the rest of the day did not disappoint me.

As I finished plugging the Home Movie Collection hard drive, I wondered what interesting video files awaited me. I did not have to wait long I noted the first images of a new batch contained a family deep sea fishing in the 1950s (the black and white footage really gave it away), the family cat enjoying itself in the front yard, and other members of the family performing various chores around the house. Of course, the usual events of birthdays, Christmas celebrations, doting parents focusing on their children, and family gatherings did consist of the majority of the footage reviewed. While precious, these images did not help me narrow pertinent information such as the location of the footage filmed.

This did not  mean I stopped watching for context clues in the footage reviewed. For instance, one videographer filmed a life preserver and a mast of a ship for three seconds. The life preserver contained the ship name on the front and the ship’s name turned out to be the USS Constitution. During the majority of the twentieth century, “Old Ironsides” remained in Boston Harbor. Reason stands that the person who filmed the footage on the deck of the ship should also be in Boston as well.

Paying attention to these details remain important clues to answering an archivists’ questions regarding the origins of film media with no external descriptions. Another instance pertains to footage a group of girls playing with a toddler in the front lawn of a house. Yet, even scenes like this reveal much about the setting. One of the girls wore a shirt that said “-evittown’s School (the skirt the girl wore obscured the bottom of the shirt).” I did a quick search and Levittown, New York seemed to fit the bill.

Only once did this method backfire. Somehow, one of the donors donated footage of a military transport ship’s voyage. While the five minute footage mostly contained various parts of the ship’s deck, I noticed part of a life preserver that said “E. Clarkson” on the front (somehow the rest of the preserver did not make it into the shot). From what I gathered, the closest match I found to “E. Clarkson” seemed to be a World War II liberty ship named the SS Robert E. Clarkson. The ship remained active after the war until 1965, when it was scrapped.

While I am sure the ship in the footage is the same SS Robert E. Clarkson, I failed to find anything to substantiate this hypothesis. Likewise, I found somtheing else in the footage that interested me and I frustrated myself for not providing any conclusive identification for. The footage revealed a tank being hoisted from a dock and lowered into the hull of the ship. Since I play a video game called World of Tanks (the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions), I thought the tank looked like a variant of the M4 Sherman medium tank with a tiger mouth painted on its front hull (a feature noted on tanks in the Korean War). I thought of a plan to try to identify the tank and if I am successful, then I will post the results in the post.

Eventually, my shift ended. I saved my work and returned all materials related to the Home Movie Collection to the stacks. Afterward, I bid farewell to the staff and left for the day.

In review, I watched more Home Movie Collection video files and took notes of what the footage depicted. Hopefully, I can postively identify the “mystery tank” by Monday. Until then, enjoy the weekend 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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