Stock Footage

By Karin Carlson

So far the only stories from the WCVB collection I have been able to get a closer look at are the handful of reels that we have inspected, and sometimes transferred, by request.  Occasionally Northeast Historic Film will receive a request for stock footage from a producer or director for a documentary or television program, and some of these requests have coincided with the footage available in the WCVB collection.

[caption id="attachment1117" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="White Bulger Mug Shots, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons"]<a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-1117" title="Whitey Bulger Arrest" src="" alt="Whitey Bulger Mugshots" width="300" height="188" />[/caption]

Since the arrest of “Whitey” Bulger last year the most requested subject I have received has been anything in connection with Bulger, the Boston mafia, or South Boston Crime.  I have not found any footage yet that deals directly with Bulger, but searching through the information can be tricky.  These reels have not been fully processed or tagged with subjects so when I search my inventory I have to guess what the newscaster/ cameraman may have written on the slug (the leader on the outside of the reel).  This is a tricky request as well, because Bulger was involved in crime but not arrested during the time period covered by the Collection and it is unlikely that the station would have done a story directly about him or the mafia.

[caption id="attachment1118" align="alignright" width="300" caption="1970 Boston Protest against the Vietnam War, courtesy Wikimedia Commons"]<a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-1118" title="Boston1970protestagainsttheVietnamWar" src="" alt="1970 Boston Protest against the Vietnam War" width="300" height="199" />[/caption]

Other requests have centered on an image as opposed to a particular subject.  One example of this was a request for “Hippies at Harvard.”  I searched for “hippies,” “students,” “Harvard,” “demo,” “demonstration,” “rally,” “march,” and “protest.”  I came up with a reasonable list, but upon further inspection few stories were actual student demonstrations and what few hippies I found were not on the Harvard campus.  While I was not successful in locating the footage requested, I did come across some footage of an anti-war protest on Boston Common where, according to the Boston Globe story, John Kerry was one of the speakers.  I was unable to tell if he was pictured by winding through it, but if this reel is chosen to be transferred then I will get a closer look.

Other searches have been more successful.  A request for police arresting people, preferably teenagers, was easily located in the bussing footage, and anyone looking for footage of a fire will not be disappointed.  I am very grateful for these requests as they have helped me to give me a better understanding of the nature of the footage I am processing and have also given me the chance to get a head start on inspecting the film.  The more I weave my way through the collection and try to get into the heads of the cameramen the more excited I am to get started on the process of targeted digitization as opposed to the to scatter shot approach that has been available to me so far.