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Digital Watauga Project to Hold Home Movie Day on Thursday, Aug. 3 at Library

Dancers perform at the 1953 May Day Ceremony at Appalachian State Teachers College. Image is from the Palmer Blair Movie Collection, Digital Watauga Project (Pal-Bla-9-1).

Have any old home movies just lying around in the attic, basement, or garage? Think they might contain historic footage showing life in Boone, Blowing Rock, or Watauga County?

Bring them on down to Digital Watauga’s Home Movie Day, sponsored by the Watauga County Historical Society (WCHS), and they’ll run them through the projector to see what you’ve got. This unusual and much anticipated event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 3, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Watauga County Library in Boone.

The special guest and host for this event will be Skip Elsheimer from A/V Geeks, a film and video digitization and transfer firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Skip has many years of experience in this field and comes highly recommended by film preservation faculty and specialists throughout the country for his film and video transfer work. Digital Watauga and the WCHS rely on him exclusively for the digital transfer of films in their collections.

A steer drags his owner down West King Street during the 1950 Echoes of the Blue Ridge Parade. Image is from the Clarence A. Price Home Movies Collection, Digital Watauga Project (Cla-Pri-1-6).

This is a drop-in event, meaning that folks can stop by anytime during the event hours, although home movies from participants will be screened on a first-come, first-served basis. Elsheimer will have equipment on hand capable of screening many of the film formats popular for home use from the 1940s through the 1970s, including 8 mm, Super 8, and 16 mm film, as well as some other specialized formats. In addition to the films brought to the event by attendees, Digital Watauga will also screen selections from their collections, including footage of the 1949 Watauga County Centennial Parade and the 1950 Appalachian Theatre fire. Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served.

Beyond allowing all of us to enjoy a glimpse of the past, this event is designed in part to identify film collections documenting the history and families of Watauga County, and to evaluate their suitability for display to the public through the Digital Watauga Project. Established in 2014, the Digital Watauga Project (DWP) is a collaborative effort between the Watauga County Historical Society and the Watauga County Public Library to preserve and display the High Country’s archival memory. By serving as a digital clearinghouse of Watauga County’s history, the DWP encourages its members and the citizens of Watauga County to make our history more accessible to the general public while also allowing the owner of historical materials digitized through the DWP to retain ownership and control over their original images, documents, and artifacts. Public access to the digitized images on Digital Watauga is always free.

To learn more about Digital Watauga and see some of the 16 collections and 4,403 items that have been digitized thus far, visit http://DigitalWatauga.org. If you have questions about this event or the project in general, or if you have a collection you’d like to share with the project, please contact Eric Plaag at DigitalWatauga@gmail.com.