Maine State Archivist David Cheever has announced that the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives at Bowdoin College will receive $1,000 to digitize more than 100 Brewster family home movie reels in order to preserve them and to make them more accessible to researchers.
These 16mm films, many with Owen Brewster behind the lens or in the frame, were taken between the 1930s and the early 1960s, and only recently were uncovered and acquired by the College.
The reels complement the papers of Maine’s Brewster family and Ralph Owen Brewster, a member of the Bowdoin College Class of 1909, previously donated to Bowdoin by the Brewster family.
Brewster, a former Maine legislator, governor and U.S. congressman representing Maine both in the House and the Senate, retired from public service in 1953.
He was a polarizing and influential figure in the politics of Maine and the nation, and for that reason his life and the archival record that documents it are particularly important for the study of Maine and American history, and politics throughout the early and mid-20th century.
The funds to preserve these home movies come from the Historical Records Collections Grant Program of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, administered in Maine by the Maine Historical Records Advisory Board.
Northeast Historic Film of Bucksport, Maine, will partner with Bowdoin to perform the digitization of the deteriorating 16mm film.
“Most of this footage is on the brink of decay,” says Richard Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives.
“This award will allow us to act immediately to preserve a uniquely important visual resource, one that documents Maine’s past political and social life in ways that have become increasingly scarce.”