Professional film collection, 1920s-1930s

Collection Type

  • Video recordings and motion pictures





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The Professional Film Collection is made up of 18 reels transferred to DVD's #27-29. The dates span from the 1920s to the 1930s. The reels are all silent and black and white. The running time is 1.79 hours.

Most of this collection consists of travel film, news events, and natural history. It appears most of these reels belonged to James Duncan Phillips. They were a medium made popular in the 1920s and 30s and as such sold to a general audience to be shown in the home.

Burton Holmes made famous the travelogue. He spoke widely on his travels and filmed hundreds of locations. The Burton Holmes productions include Hawaii (AF179-180), Yosemite, California (AF181), No. 6, Damascus Gate, Israel (AF182), and No. 72, Cairo, Egypt (AF183-184).

The Castle Films productions include Hawaii (AF186), the coronation of Pope Pius the XII in 1939 (AF187).

The Kodak Cinegraph collection includes more travel films, natural history and news events: an Indian Durbar (AF 190), Allenby in Palestine (AF191), Hawaii (AF192), the Alhambra (AF193), and an underwater film entitled, "The Floor of the Atlantic" (AF194). There are also two promotional films of movies available for purchase from Kodak Cinegraph (AF196-197).

Source: Phillips Family Film Collection finding aid.


Descriptive Terms

natural history
wilderness areas
national parks
Roman Catholicism
underwater photography
history (discipline)
architectural history
motion pictures (visual work)
promotional materials

Physical Description

18 reels : black-and-white and silent ; 16 millimeter

Custodial History

The original 16mm film reels were gathered from various locations in trunks and boxes and sorted into three separate collections based upon the address written on the reel box and other items that were stored in the trunks or boxes. The three collections are: The Stephen Phillips Film Collection, The James Duncan Phillips Film Collection, and the Professional Film Collection. Once each reel had been separated into a collection, the films were organized chronologically by year. If the box was not labeled with a year, the edge codes stamped on the edges of the film provided the year of the film stock's manufacture. This gave an approximate date to the footage recorded on the film. In most cases, the film was used within a couple years of its manufacture date. Once in chronological order, each reel was assigned an Archives Film (AF) number, given a visual inspection and condition report, and all of the handwritten material on the reel boxes or cans was recorded.
Of the 210 reels gathered, 11 reels had to be discarded due to extreme mold growth and rust. The remaining 199 reels of film were transported to Northeast Historic Film (NHF) in Bucksport, Maine for conservation. The conservation work was funded in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The technicians at NHF cleaned each reel and transferred the film to archival cores and stored the newly conserved film in archival film cans. Once the conservation work was complete, the museum received a grant from the Essex National Heritage Commission (ENHC) to transfer the reels onto a Beta SP master copy and a DVD viewing copy. Of the 199 reels conserved, 193 reels were transferred to DVD viewing copies. Five of the reels were unable to be transferred due to shrinkage, and one reel was comprised of unprocessed film, that needs to be developed before it can be viewed.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Phillips family film collection

Reference Code



Hawaii (United States)
Yosemite National Park (Mariposa county, California) [national park]
Al-Quds (West Bank, Israel) [general region]
Holy See
Palestine [historical region]
Granada (Granada province, Andalusia, Spain)
Atlantic Ocean [ocean]
British Empire [historical region]

Record Details


Burton Holmes Films (Chicago, Ill.)
Castle Films, inc.
Kodak Cinegraph

Material Type

motion pictures (visual work)
promotional materials

Other People

Phillips, James Duncan, 1876-1954
Pius XII, Pope, 1876-1958
Allenby, Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, Viscount, 1861-1936

Other Organizations

Catholic Church


Nature films

Description Level




The summary by catalogue number lists the films by AF number and by DVD. The AF numbers are organized by collection, the first collection, (highlighted in yellow) was created by Stephen Phillips (1907-1971), the second collection (highlighted in blue) was created by James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954), the third collection (highlighted in green) was created by professional film companies and corporations. The original film title that was written on the box (if any) is notated first in "quotes". When there was no title written on the box the museum staff created titles for the unmarked reels based on the footage contained on the film-these titles are notated second in [brackets]. In some cases, the handwritten title on the outside of the box did not match the footage recorded on the reel. This is notated in (parentheses) between the original title and the museum title.

The Summary by catalogue number lists single reels in black ink and groups of reels by different colored ink. The colored ink reels are groups of films that were taken on a trip to a particular place by the creator. A more detailed finding aid, listing specific people and places is available for research upon request.