Stillman Field Trip

Submitted by David

One of the most enjoyable things about working at NHF is taking an occasional field trip to pick up a collection. Recently I found myself in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY where I had the great pleasure of meeting Amelia Stillman who conveyed the last portion of the films her late husband John S. Stillman wished us to have.

The new addition, totaling over 140 reels of 16mm film, contains footage of Maine (a sailing cruise from North Haven to Northeast Harbor), Massachusetts (everything you wanted to know about the Harvard Class of 1940), and many interesting reels from farther afield (sidewalks of New York City : pushcarts, parades etc.; the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Equestrian events; and many reels of Haiti). Most of the footage was taken by Ernest G. Stillman.

These reels join two earlier donations of film from John Stillman, 15 reels of Maine material was donated to us in 1995. This film, taken by John's father, Ernest G. Stillman, captures remarkable footage of life and activities around Mount Desert Island. The sardine fishery on Cranberry Island is one of the most wonderful sequences in our collection. (See a clip now) The legendary 1947 Bar Harbor fire is also well documented.

Ernest Stillman, a well-known philanthropist, was actively involved in supporting the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. During the 1920s and 1930s he filmed a number of activities there. These films, first donated to the Harvard forest, have now been transferred to NHF. Of note is a film showing, step-by-step, the process of making open-pit charcoal. Another depicts the aftermath of the 1938 hurricane.

There is one part of the collection that NHF does not have, the Stillman Fire Collection. John Stillman donated it to the Prelinger Archives, which is now a part of the Library of Congress. The collection contains 36 reels of fires, all of which can be viewed on-line.