Karen Clarke Collection
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Simmons Brown
Credit: Karen Clarke Collection, Northeast Historic Film.
Credit: Simmons Brown home movies. Excerpt from “Karen, skiing, sled dog racing, 1927-1930.” 16 mm. film. From the Karen Clarke Collection at Northeast Historic Film, Bucksport, ME. MP4 video, 1:28.
Primary Format and Extent
39 film reels
Collection Date Range
1926 - 1964
The Karen Clarke Collection contains 39 reels of 16 mm. amateur film. The collection was shot between 1926 and 1964 by her father, Simmons Brown, of Falmouth, Maine. Many reels depict the family's recreational activities at Lac Wayagamac, La Tuque, Quebec, Canada; and at Falmouth, Maine, including scenes of boating, fishing, hiking, horse-riding, skiing, and sled dog racing. Travel films include scenes at Charleston, North Carolina, Florida, and Havana, Cuba. Many family events and celebrations are depicted: Christmas and July 4th holidays; birthdays; the 50th anniversary of Simmons and Mary Brown; and several weddings, including the wedding of Karen and Gordon Brown in 1954. Among the most noteworthy film in the collection is amateur documentation of Charles Lindbergh and "The Spirit of St. Louis" at Orchard Beach, Maine, in July 1927. Maine Memory Network
Biographical/Historical Notes
Karen Brown Clarke of Bay Square at Yarmouth and Falmouth, Maine, was born in 1925 in her grandparents’ house on State Street, Portland, to Mary Fletcher Brown and Simmons Brown. She married Gordon Clarke in 1954.

Karen was a graduate of the Waynflete School of Portland and Smith College. An early environmentalist, she was a founder and chair of the Simsbury, CT Conservation Commission and served on its elected Zoning Board for 10 years, the last four as its chair. She also made time to sing in the chorus of the well-known Simsbury Light Opera Company which specialized in Gilbert and Sullivan shows.

As her daughters Kristina and Amanda grew older, she joined Gordon, becoming a rated water paddler with the Appalachian Mountain Club, climbing some of the highest mountains in New England and taking extended wilderness canoe trips in Maine, Quebec, Ontario and the Northwest Territories. On one such trip she searched out and photographed a rare tundra lily as past of a Garden Club of Hartford research project.

Balancing these outdoor activities, Karen started a new career, becoming a cataloger for a large private library of rare books on ornithology. When that collection was donated to Trinity College, Karen was named the Curator of its Ornithology Collection, a post she held until her retirement and in which she created acclaimed annual exhibitions and catalogues of the library’s remarkable holdings.

Northeast Historic Film
The Collection is open for research.
Condition Governing Reproduction and Use
Authorization to reuse and/or reproduce must be obtained from Northeast Historic Film. See http://oldfilm.org/content/stock-footage-licensing for more information.
Items in this collection: 38
Showing 1 - 10 of 38:
1) Children, La Tuque, Quebec, 1926-1927--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 1
Label on leader: "Children 1926-1927 and Britta [Bjornlund], Father and horses/Elliot [Payson?]"more
2) Family, Charleston, South Carolina, 1927--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 2
Label on leader: "Charleston & Monticello, part 3."more
3) Woods, Downing Potter Brown, 1927--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 3
Label on leader: "1927 - Shep [Shedden] Harold [C. Payson] - DPB [Downing Potter Brown] - La Tuque - [?]"more
4) Florida, 1926-1927--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 4
Father, Mother, Elizabeth (Brown, Dessau, Bradeen) + Marion?more
5) Margaret and Fletcher Brown wedding, 1948--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 5
"Peg (Margaret Coleman) & Fletcher's Wedding - 1948"more
6) Payson wedding, Amelia, 1950-1951--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 6
Label on leader: "J&H [Joan and Henry Storer Payson] Wedding - Amelia 1950-51"more
7) Karen and Gordon Clarke wedding, 1954--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 7
"Karen & Gordon's Wedding 1954 - Outdoor Pictures"more
8) Karen and Gordon Clarke wedding, 1954--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 8
"Karen & Gordon's Wedding 1954 - Indoor Pictures"more
9) Karen and Gordon Clarke wedding, Mimi MacLeod's birthday, 1954--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 9
"Karen & Gordon's Wedding 1954 - Snow Scene - Mimi's Birthday Party [Mimi Payson MacLeod]"more
10) Karen, skiing, sled dog racing, 1927-1930--Simmons Brown--home movies. Reel 10
On reel: "Karen 1928/skiing at clubhouse [La Tuque]/Shep [Shedden] and Carl [Keller]/Fletcher [Brown] dog racing"more
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