Home Movie Registry

The Home Movie Registry is an online portal that aggregates the catalog records and digitized files of amateur film and video in one central location. The Registry is a curated search engine for amateur films. It doesn’t replace the efforts of film archives and their online presence but is a new way to show researchers and site visitors the home movies these collecting institutions have.

The Registry is a new project of the Center for Home Movies (CHM) in partnership with a number of moving image archives and, eventually, any individual with films or videos of their family. The Registry is a work in progress. Built on WordPress, the open source platform with a strong development community, the Registry currently allows for searches across the home movie collections of our partnering archives. Future versions of the Registry will allow for more robust searches and the capture of user-generated metadata.

The Center for Home Movies is always looking for new archives and collections to include in the Registry. If you or the institution you work for collects home movies and wants to participate, please contact the Center for Home Movies at info@centerforhomemovies.org.

More information on the Center for Home Movies and the specific workings of the Registry is included below.

Center for Home Movies

The Registry is a new project of the Center for Home Movies, a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, study, and exhibition of amateur media. It is an outgrowth of CHM’s mission to promote home movies through efforts including Home Movie Day, a yearly event held in over 15 countries which is now in its 12 year; curated programs such as the new Home Grown Movies that digitizes select films from local Home Movie Day events and presents them online with the stories about the family that produced them; and the 2010 Digitization and Access Summit which explored the technical and social requirements in placing analog amateur film and video online for viewing, study, and reuse. The Home Movie Registry is a direct realization of the issues explored in the 2010 Summit.

Current State of the Registry

The mission of the Registry is to connect researchers, documentarians, and family members to the archives, museums, and individuals that collect and preserve home movies. The Registry exists to get more home movies digitized, online, and discoverable in a collaborative union archive. Every home movie is eligible for the Registry; the site’s guiding principle is that even the most modest film or video gains value through a public inclusion within the larger practice of amateur media making.

The Registry’s initial stage was designed to add another avenue of discovery for home movies that have already been digitized and uploaded by archives and museums. The first stage created a shared site for these numerous collections with a focus on mapping metadata to allow a common search across multiple archives. Ideally, the Registry will allow scholars and genealogists to find home movies they might not have otherwise come across and to send them back to the websites and larger collections of participating archives and museums. The goal is to increase the value and visibility of participating archive’s online holdings.

Currently, the Home Movie Registry has brought together over 2,000 home movies and catalog records from five archives including the Prelinger Archives, the films held by the Center for Home Movies, Chicago Film Archives, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Texas Archives of the Moving Image. The Registry allows for searches across collections by names, topics, date, and location. Ideally, this offers researchers a quick way to find relevant home movies and then navigate back to the specific archive’s home site for more information.

The Future of the Registry

Future plans for the Registry include the incorporation of more dynamic user interfaces including maps that can chart the movements of travelogues and pinpoint specific shots at the precise locations where they were filmed, and search returns that can jump to the segment of a home movie that is relevant to the query. The Center for Home Movies is exploring ways to allow private individuals to upload their home movies to the site so they can be preserved at the Internet Archive and made accessible to family members and friends through the Registry. Additionally, it is hoped that the Registry will spur discussions among the collecting institutions that hold amateur media collections on the standardization of cataloging home movies, possibilities of monetizing home movies as stock footage, and collaborative efforts to promote the educational use of home movies in schools and universities.

Technical information

The Home Movie Registry operates on the WordPress platform. CHM is confident in the ability of the Registry to function as a union catalog of home movies, as WordPress has widespread use,  with an expanding user base of universities, museums, and historical societies. At this point, the Registry has been populated with metadata and embedded video by the scraping of participating archives’ websites by CHM. The Center for Home Movies is responsible for entering this information into the Registry site.

To do so, CHM maps the different metadata schema employed by each archive into a mix of Dublin Core fields, and a metadata schema for home movies developed by catalogers at the 2010 Digitization and Access Summit. Issues still under consideration include how to allow archives to upload information and films to the Registry, how to allow visitors to generate new metadata about the films, and how to export any new metadata back to the originating archives. The Registry as it exists now is still developing. Ideally, it will eventually move beyond this static method of aggregating metadata and videos to a push-and-pull design where it will automatically reflect changes in the sites of participating institutions.