Motion-Picture Portraits Are Life's ONLY Replica!
From a Victor Ciné Sales Corp advertisement, about 1925.
The home movie phenomenon was born in 1923 when the Eastman Kodak Company introduced a simple camera that used a 16 millimeter-wide film and was created especially for safe and easy use by amateurs. With this camera, movie-making became both affordable and accessible to the general public. A series of innovations over the next 50 years also contributed to the popularity of amateur filmmaking. These included the smaller 8mm film in 1932, color film in the mid 1930s, Super-8 in 1965, and Kodak's 1973 release of a film camera with the ability to record sound directly on the film itself
Home movies were similar to photograph albums in that they were made to share with family and friends. However, unlike photo albums, viewing home movies required mechanical projection, making it more of an event for small audiences. Favorite subjects in home movies also echo those of snapshot albums and scrapbooks: special family occasions, holidays, travel, children, pets, and community events.
The Nebraska State Historical Society's collections contain nearly 1000 reels of home movies from over seventy Nebraska families and individuals, dating from 1923 into the 1980s. Here is sampling of scenes from some of those films. For more historic movies, visit the NSHS YouTube Channel.
Jesse Avery, a farmer and avid amateur moviemaker living near Humboldt, Nebraska, captured these scenes of rural family and agricultural life in rural Richardson County in 1929. They include this home movie footage of Richardson County (Nebraska)'s Fall Festival in 1929.
Crawford, Nebraska pharmacist Arthur Howe captured these scenes of an event billed as "The Last Great Gathering of the Sioux Nation" in September, 1934. The gathering drew huge numbers of participants and spectators, including some 1000 Native Americans from nearby reservations.
Brownville farmer and home movie enthusiast Frank Thomas documented the process of cutting ice from the Missouri River in these scenes from 1940.
Glen Kellett, together with his brother Leo, farmed 80 acres of land in Nebraska's North Platte Valley near the towns of Gering and Scottsbluff. In the late 1930s and early 40s, Kellett created films that follow the production of their various crops from planting through harvest and preparation for market, as well as the building of their modern dairy barn.
Forrest Raikes was a John Deer implement dealer in Ashland, Nebraska, and an avid photographer and home movie maker. He shot every Christmas as his kids and his grandkids were growing up. This montage of Christmas scenes stretches from 1941 through 1970 -- nearly 30 years of home movies.
Home Movie Cameras
The Cine-Kodak Model A was the only hand-crank movie camera manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company. Introduced in January, 1923, it shot 16mm film and was operated by turning the crank on the side of the camera at a steady 2 revolutions per second.
The Cine-Kodak Eight Model 20, introduced in 1932, was the first 8mm motion picture camera made by the Eastman Kodak Company. It featured a spring motor that was wound with a key located on the side of the camera.
The Kodascope Model EE 16mm projector was sold by the Eastman Kodak Company starting around 1937. Powered by electricity, it was designed for home use.