Archive for the ‘Moving Images’ Category

contributed by Brittany Hujar – Intern at the CCHP.

As a graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Science, I knew I wanted to concentrate on the digital aspect of preservation. I have always been attracted to history and the act of preserving it; my other master’s degree is in Art History. In the digital era, we see media that is being developed to help progress the institutions of archives, while other media are dying out. I think it is important for archivists and historians to be aware of the importance of digital preservation to preserve the mediums that have the potential of becoming lost, damaged, or obsolete. When I decided to intern at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CCHP) I was excited to delve into their film and photograph collection. This was my chance to be hands on with the material and the digitization process.

With older audio/visual materials, it is important to digitize and migrate this media into a digital format. At my internship, I am digitizing Walter Miles’ films. Walter Miles was an American psychologist. His collection came to the CCHP in August of 1982, and his extensive collection (with a finding aid of 777 pages!) covers his work from 1928 to 1965. I have digitized about 20 of his films in the collection, which focus on his work between 1928 and 1957, including his development of the two-story rat maze, patient examinations, and home movies from this time spent in Istanbul.

The goal of digitizing this collection is not only to preserve the quality of the film, but also to increase public access. Some of Miles’ films have already been digitized, but our original telecine could only scan at a resolution rate of 1024 by 768. In the 1990s and 2000s this scan resolution would have been fine, due to most televisions and computer monitors not having a very high resolution. Now, with a Cintel Backmagic film scanner, we can scan the film at very high resolutions. 2304 x 1712 for 16mm film and 3840 x 2160 for 35mm film. Many smaller institutions don’t have access to scanner of this type so they have to send film out to be digitized.The CCHP has the only Cintel Blackmagic scanner in Summit County. The machine is able to scan 16mm, Super-16mm, 35mm and Super-35mm film. So far, I have had the pleasure to work with 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film.

The first step in the digitization process is to inspect and “clean” the film. One thing that you wouldn’t expect from film sitting in a container all the time is that it would be dusty. We use white gloves to make sure not to get our grubby hands on the frame and smudge the film. It is important to inspect the film by checking for any shrinkage and to make sure that the splices are in good condition. Film that is not kept in proper conditions falls victim to different elements that can damage the film, such as shrinkage and vinegar syndrome. Vinegar syndrome occurs when the film starts to deteriorate and a chemical reaction happens, producing a vinegar odor. Luckily, the Miles films have been kept in excellent condition with only a few that needed resplicing or shrinkage.

A splice is where two films have been taped together, either due to film editing or damage. If a splice is not repaired in the inspection process the likelihood of breaking when the film is run through the scanner increases.

All of the Miles films are 16mm silent films in black and white and color. After inspecting the film, I then load it onto a film scanner and run it at 11 frames per second. The amount of time each film takes to scan depends on the length of the film. I try to inspect a film while one was being scanned, but sometimes the content of each film was interesting to watch, so that wasn’t always the case. The film scanner captures each frame as its own high-resolution image and imports into the program DaVinci Resolve. After the entire film is captured, I then export it to our media drive.

The process is straight forward but intricate. However, it is an important one for the preservation of audio/visual materials. It’s a process that takes time, care, and knowledge.

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~ contributed by Seth Huffman

Seth Huffman completed a practicum with CHP in Fall 2013, earning his MLIS from Kent State University School of Library and Information Science. He worked with the CHP film collection creating metadata, rehousing and cleaning, and testing for acetate decay. Early in his work, he became especially interested in the films of Dr. L. Joseph Stone.

Dr. L. Joseph Stone was a child psychologist who worked for Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.  Before starting his work with the Department of Child Study at Vassar in 1939, Stone worked for the Sarah Lawrence College. In the early part 1940 the department at Vassar College was given grants from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the General Education Board.  Stone used the money from these grants to build a sound studio and an editing room.  These would become the foundation of the Vassar Film Program.  It was his dream to produce films on child behavior in order to teach others how to properly raise them and oversee their care.  In the late 1940s Josef Bohmer became the technical director of the Vassar Film Program and he and Stone worked closely for over twenty years.

During his time with Vassar, Stone completed a twenty-three film series entitled Studies of Normal Personality Development.  This series consist of seventeen films funded through the University and six that were funded through The Office of Economic Opportunity – Head Start Training films.  The series started in 1941 with the film Finger Painting and ended in 1967 with three Head Start Films, Organizing Free Play, Head Start to Confidence, and Discipline and Self-Control. Most of these films focused on children between the ages of two and eight and their raising.  

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In 1965 the filming of infants and their development in institutions was added to the film program.   This footage was filmed with the intention of creating another series focusing on infant development. 

While all films in this series are notable, there are some which standout as true treasures.  One film which shows the true time and effort that was needed for these films is entitled: This is Robert.  In preparation for this film, Stone filmed a child who was deemed “difficult” for five years.  Starting when Robert was two years old until the time he was seven, Robert was filmed with the hopes of capturing the developing personality.

Three other films that should be mentioned are: When Should Grownups Help and When Should Grownups Stop Fights from 1951, 1952 respectively.  These films along with And Then Ice Cream, 1950, made up a sub-series entitled: Preschool Incidences.

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In these films a clip is shown of a child in a situation and the viewer is asked to decide what action to take.  For example in the film When Should Grownups Help, a little girl is seen with a rope caught around her ankle and in the spokes of her tricycle.  The audience is then asked if they would help the little girl and to what extent.    

One of the last films created was Organizing Free Play.  This film shows scenes from around twelve Head Start and other preschools centers and the many activities that the children can choose to participate in.  These activities and the choices that the children make all are part of the “curriculum of discovery.

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The films in this series are fascinating for many reasons.   They provide a great window into past views on children and their development.   Each film is remarkable not only for the content shown, but for the time and care that Dr. Stone invested each one.  This series covers a period of over twenty-five years and throughout that time the amount of work that was done by Dr. Stone help lay the groundwork for future studies into child development.     

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– contributed by Jodi Kearns.

Book of the Month is starting a new feature: Staff Picks!  Each month, a CHP staff member will select a book from the collection.  This month’s selection is by Dr. Jodi Kearns, Digital Projects Manager.

BOOK: An Atlas of Infant Behavior: A Systematic Delineation of the Forms of Early Growth of Human Behavior Patterns by Arnold Gesell, (1934) 2 volumes.

The CHP houses an estimated 13,000 reels of film; roughly one third of these are part of the Child Development Film Archives.


Among the CDFA films are reels of raw footage from Arnold Gesell’s research from as early as the 1910s when he was filming infants and children performing tasks that hadn’t previously been captured as moving images. Tasks filmed represent stages of development, such as an infant rolling from front to back, using a spoon to feed himself, playing with blocks, or kicking his legs in bath.

By no small stretch of the imagination, one can figure that multiple copies of reels of 35mm film and projectors to play them on were not immediately available for use by those studying child development and infant behavior in 1930s America. The Atlas of Infant Behavior was created to bring observable, sequenced movements to studies in child development.


In the Atlas prefatory summary, Gesell describes the statistical processes by which he and his team objectively selected still frames from the hours of moving images to use as representative of the complete sequence of infant movements.


The research team’s final selections provided students of child development with “patterned organization of the movements” so that students need not have access to the actual films in order to observe “developmental sequences of infant behaviors.”


Today, we would call Gesell’s statistical and objective cinema analysis keyframe analyses, which have been accomplished by computers for several decades for the purposes of using structural compositions of the film’s data stream itself in order to determine keyframes that could be used to represent whole films in information retrieval systems.

This two-volume atlas of child development is my pick for CHP’s Book of the Month because it offers a brilliant example of 100-year-old methods of film analysis and generous information overlap between the history of psychology and my own field, Information Science.

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-Contributed by Arlie Belliveau.

The CHP is happy to welcome Arlie Belliveau back for a month-long practicum!  Last summer, Arlie came on board as a temporary intern, helping to digitize and organize parts of the CHP Moving Image Collection. 

Sitting in the basement at the Center for the History of Psychology, I quietly watch the 1960s child development films of Stanford University neonatal psychologist Dr. Anneliese Korner. The projector is running smoothly today, and I’ve found a good setup for the digital camera. Sitting silently on its tripod, the camera captures the clicking projector but more importantly the images of the children on the screen. I wind the film onto an archival core and seal it away in the stacks. It is my job to record an access copy that will be available to future researchers and to create robust metadata that patrons will be able to access online. This is the task ahead of me as I sit and watch the tiny infants on the screen.

The research films I am working with this spring document the first few hours of the lives of 32 full-term infants. Made as observational aids for Dr. Korner and her collaborators (Bernadine Chuck, Soula Dontchos, and later Dr. Evelyn Thoman), they were used to corroborate notes taken on the innate behavior of infants, before they’d had a chance to learn actions or responses from their mothers. The child currently projected upon the screen is crying. Soon it will be sleeping, or thumb-sucking, or kicking and crying again. There are 69 of these 16mm polyester films for me to go through during my month-long research practicum. I look forward to blogging about the experience as it unfolds.

Arlie R. Belliveau is a doctoral student in York University’s History & Theory of Psychology program. She studies the earliest uses of motion picture film technology by psychologists in their research. You can read about Arlie’s previous adventures in the CHP film collection here, here, and here.

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-Contributed by Jodi Kearns and Cathy Faye

Ever wish you could search all of the CHP collections at once? Wish you had better remote access to our collections? Now you do! We’re happy to announce the launch of CHP Digital Collections, a new repository for descriptive metadata and digital objects from the CHP holdings. The goal of this new project is to allow you to search all of our collections and materials from the comfort of your own computer or smartphone.

This searchable, online repository will eventually allow users to access descriptive data for all of the items in our collections. The repository also provides open access to many digitized copies of our paper-based materials, including books, grey literature, and psychological tests. Interested in seeing what we have in our Artifacts Collection? Users can zoom in on photographs and read descriptions of the instruments, apparatus, and other objects in that collection. The digital repository also provides a link to all of the available finding aids for the CHP Manuscript Collection.

Users can search across collections from the repository homepage:

Or, they can search within a certain collection by using the search box on that collection’s home page:

To date, there are just over 33,000 records available in this system with about 7,000 images and PDFs available for viewing. Three collections contain lists of complete holdings: Books, Manuscripts, and Tests. Three collections are still works in progress: Artifacts, Moving Images, and Special Interest. Still to come: Sounds Recordings and Still Images. Other academic units across The University of Akron campus have been invited to post their collections, including the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Native American Ethnographic Collection that is currently on display in CHP galleries.

Head over to CHP Digital Collections today to browse or search our holdings! We continue to add new items daily, so check back often. If the search results indicate that the file is restricted, simply contact us at ahap@uakron.edu to request access. Stay tuned here on the blog for future tips of searching and using this new tool!

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-Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton

In the spring of 1938, Harry and Leta Stetter Hollingworth were set to receive honorary degrees from their alma mater – The University of Nebraska. The Hollingworths packed a motion picture camera and embarked on a road trip from Montrose, New York to Lincoln, Nebraska – the place they had first met 35 years earlier.

They visited the school house where Harry first worked as a school teacher and they spent time with his maternal aunts Ella and Mattie. They visited the cemetery where his mother was buried and they bought plots for themselves. They received their ‘Doctor of Law’ degrees side by side during the University of Nebraska commencement ceremonies and later traveled to Leta’s hometown and attended a picnic with her relatives.

As Harry recalled the event and their return to New York in his memoirs he wrote, “a new turn had come in our lives and…we might well be following through another era in our joint development.” However that was not to be the case. Tragically, Leta Stetter Hollingworth died the following year.

The eight minute film presented here documents the final trip of Harry and Leta Stetter Hollingworth. The film is silent. The commentary I am reading comes from volume 2 of Harry Hollingworth’s memoir, “Years at Columbia.”

The Center for the History of Psychology is currently collaborating with The University of Akron press on the publication of Harry Hollingworth’s two volume memoir. Please look for Roots in the Great Plains: The Applied Psychology of Harry Hollingworth (Vol. I) and From Coca-Cola to Chewing Gum: The Applied Psychology of Harry Hollingworth (Vol. II) after the first of the year.

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My supplies arrived, and I’ve begun repairing the broken sprocket holes and splices, adding leader tape, viewing, digitizing, re-housing, and determining dates and titles for the films in my sample.

There was a real do-it-yourself atmosphere in the archives this week as the students and interns found creative solutions to mend and modify some of our instruments. Our very own student assistant Richard Johnson repaired our 8mm projector, and I built an adapter for our film rewind.

Some of you might have noticed the green box sitting in my workspace. It is a Moviola film viewer, and it lets me look at the films without having to risk damaging them in a projector. I’ve been using it to view parts of the films that are too brittle or shrunken to play safely through a projector. However, many of the films are in good enough condition to watch, and I began to digitize a select few.

Among these films was one I discovered hidden away in a photograph collection. The film “Psychologists 1930-50”  is a mix of footage taken at a variety of conferences by psychologist Clarke W. Crannell. The subjects of the film include Edward C. Tolman, Kurt Lewin, Knight Dunlap, Clark Hull, Wolfgang Köhler, Ernest Hilgard, Joseph L. Stone, Lester F. Beck, Erik Erikson, Harry Harlow, Kenneth W. Spence, Louis Leon Thurstone, and many more. Crannell labeled each shot, and in some cases even drew small diagrams identifying each person.

What I am most excited about however, is one particular shot about 6 minutes in which Crannell captured two unidentified female psychologists and Clark Hull, each with his or her own camera, taking moving image shots of each other! The film clip does give me hope that there are more gems like this one waiting to be uncovered.

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-Contributed by Arlie Belliveau

Opening the film canisters

After 24 grueling hours of waiting for the A-D test results, I finally got to open up the first set of film canisters! If the strip stays blue (a rating of 0-0.5), then the film is still in good condition. A green strip (a rating of 1-2) means that the film has begun to decay and is at risk (within 5 years) of warping, shrinking, and becoming brittle. A yellow strip (a rating of 2.5-3) means that there has likely already been irreversible decay, and the film requires immediate attention.

The first strip came back with an acidity rating of 1.5 (green). I had expected the 1934 film, titled “Decorticate Dog – Behavior and incidental CR”, to have that kind of result. However, to my surprise, when I opened the film canister for the 1929 Eastman Kodak educational film “Frequency Curves”, I saw that the strip had remained blue! With an acidity rating of only 0.5, this film is still quite viable.

So, I spent the last week testing a small sample of 100 16mm films for acetate decay. The films in my sample ranged in age from 36 to 91 years old, with an average age of 64 years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most had an A-D test strip result of 0.5

Proportion of decay in the CHP film collection

Polymer Science graduate student, Joey Scavuzzo, examines the film.

Hoping to get a better understanding of the chemistry behind the process of acetate decay, I met with Polymer Science graduate student, Joey Scavuzzo, who specializes in Polymer Synthesis .

We discussed just what an acetate film was, and how it comes to generate acetic acid vapor. Apparently, film is a polymer (meaning a molecule made up of a long chain of chemical bonds)! Most of the bonds in that chain are strong; however, when they come into contact with heat and water (for example), the bonds holding the acetate gas side groups can break down. It is when those molecules break free that the film properties change (warping, shrinking, breaking).

“So why don’t we just store all the films into the break room freezer?” I asked. Well, that would be good and fine, he replied, so long as we could control the relative humidity of the freezer, and so long as we never opened the door. He explained that the cooler air in the freezer would have lower humidity than the air outside. And so, just like in the wintertime when you walk inside with your glasses on, water from the more humid room would condense onto the surface of the films. This, of course, would just accelerate the acetate decay.

After a very informative afternoon, I thanked Mr. Scavuzzo for his help and asked if he had anything that he would like to tell my readers about his experience with the film collection. Without skipping a beat he stated, “It’s good, and I hope it lasts forever!”

My cleaning and preservation supplies should be arriving early next week. And once I put some of the elasticity back into the films, flatten out any warping, splice up any tears, and add some leader tape, I might actually get to watch (and digitize) some of these delicate artifacts from psychology’s past.

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-Contributed by Arlie Belliveau

After all the paperwork, my passport is stamped, I’ve crossed the border and started my Student Internship with the Center for the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio. During my one-month internship, I will be working with the CHP’s Moving Image collection, which includes more than 5,000 titles. I find the prospect incredibly exciting, as my Masters thesis research centered around the Micromotion films of scientific managers and industrial psychologists Frank and Dr. Lillian Gilbreth. I was able to work with a selection of their film collection, which had been digitized in 2006 by the National Film Preservation Foundation. That research would not have been possible without that digitization effort. And so, my plan at CHP is to assess the film collection, preserve the canisters at greatest risk of deterioration, and digitize (and make publicly available) whatever I can.

And so, armed with my archive pencil, the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) Guide to Film Preservation, and a positive attitude, I arrived to find a little workstation set up right in the middle of it all.

I began by making a list of the materials I need: cotton and latex gloves, a soft cloth, cleaning solution, plastic archival film canisters and cores (or reels), a film splicer and splicing tape, film marker, leader tape, a reel to reel rewinder, A-D testing strips to measure acetate decay, and a film shrinkage gauge.

I found an old rusted 16mm film splicer on the currently unused second floor of the new archives building. Having used a similar splicer before, I was reasonably sure that I could take the machine apart and get it working again. And so, after making sure that the splicer was a tool and not an artifact, I spent the morning doing just that.

I also began testing a sample of films from the stacks with dates ranging from the 1930s to the 1970s. Why did I perform these tests, you ask? Well, let me tell you a little of what I learned about the nemesis of 16mm acetate film: vinegar syndrome!

Acetate decay (also known colloquially as vinegar syndrome) is a huge problem for film archives. As the chemicals that hold the plastic base and emulsion gel oxidize over time, the materials release a vinegar gas (hence the nickname) that can infect neighboring artifacts. Worse yet, as the gas escapes, the film plasticity, shape, size, strength, and lubrication degrade. Film can become warped, brittle, and covered in mold. Images become unrecognizable, emulsion can flake off, and if there is even 1% film shrinkage, the perforated holes on the side of the film will not line up with the projector’s sprockets, and the film becomes unplayable.

I do not want to let this happen! According to the 2006 A-D Strips User’s Guide acetate deterioration generally begins after a film is 50 years old. So my plan is to select and test some of the older films in the collection, move the ones that are showing signs of acetate decay to a separate area, and clean the films with a solution that will help slow further damage. I’ll have the results of the first test soon, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the test strips come back blue (and not green or yellow).  Stay tuned for the outcome!

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