Uncovering the 1939 World's Fair

Submitted by Caitlin

I haven’t even been here for two weeks yet, as the first William O'Farrell Fellowship recipient, and already it has been full of exciting discoveries. Last summer, while here for the 2009 Summer Symposium, I got a brief glimpse of what was awaiting me on a tour David gave, which was when I decided I had to find a way to come back. So, I was thrilled when the O'Farrell Fellowship opportunity arose.

Since settling in, I’ve been able to avail myself of the amazing library and periodicals collection, the extensive viewing copies of what in actuality is just a sliver of NHF’s film holdings, and of course, best of all: the vault. It’s not just the sub-zero temperatures that send a little chill through a researcher when that door opens and the stacks and stacks of cans, reaching from floor to ceiling, reveal themselves. From this archive I have seen some stunning home movies of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and the best part of all is the ability to build a more complete picture of these films from the detailed accompanying collections folder and the other films from the same filmmaker. A rare treat. So often films such as these are orphaned with no hope of answering the myriad of questions they provoke. To anyone out there with an interest in amateur, non-fiction filmmaking, or New England subjects, you would do well to take a look at the new online collections guide. I would be willing to bet they have something you should see. A couple of days ago one of my colleagues from Chicago stopped by to say hello on her way through town, and as she walked through NHF and saw the extent of the facilities, her jaw dropped. “Wow,” she said. I’d say that just about sums it up. Wow.