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Northeast Historic Film


Alamo Theatre Interior, 1930.

Northeast Historic Film is a moving image archives located in Bucksport, Maine. It was established in 1986 and is currently located in the Alamo Theatre, a 1916 cinema building, that includes the restored, 125-seat Alamo Theatre auditorium. NHF currently has a staff of seven, with Executive Director David S. Weiss at the helm. Committed to its role in the Bucksport community, NHF presents public exhibits (including online exhibits), screenings, documentaries, symposia, film festivals and workshops for the public on preservation.

logoNHF’s extensive film collection, much of which is unique and irreplaceable, contains ten million feet of film and more than 8,000 hours of video.

They have a three-story, state-of-the-art vault building that houses materials from institutions all over the east coast. NHF also has a biannual newsletter called Moving Image Review that launched in 1988. Some services offered by NHF are moving image transfers, storage, stock footage licensing and group presentations that can include film screenings.


Credit: British Film Institute Collection, Northeast Historic Film. The Sailor’s Sacrifice, 1909, filmed in Maine.

The primary collecting focus is on northern New England-related moving image materials, with special attention paid to films that are “lost.” However, NHF also collects and preserves objects and ephemera that relate directly to individual moving image collections, including notes, still photographs and audiotapes. Such objects can also include promotional materials for individual items or creators such as posters, press books, biographical publications and correspondence. NHF collects posters from the silent era and all post-1920 posters of films with a New England connection, as well as ephemera relating to film exhibition and the history of movie theaters and their audiences in northern New England, including postcards, lantern slides, lobby cards and other images.

movie transferNHF has a pretty straight forward list of criteria for acceptance of film/tapes. High priority is given to items that are a.) related to the northern New England region through location, subject, maker, source or other connection, b.) unique, or inaccessible to the northern New England population, c.) otherwise likely tobe damaged or lost, d.) as close to the original film or tape generation as possible and is of good picture quality and e.) well-documented, and where possible accompanied by related non-motion picture references such as notes, still photographs and audiotapes.

Likewise, NHF does not purchase film/tape from organizations or individuals, recognizing that such purchase would place the archives in a position of assigning a monetary value to unique historic and cultural material which would be otherwise unavailabstorage cannistersle to the public.

All 800 collections are listed in alphabetical order on NHF’s very user-friendly website. I personally enjoyed the British Film Institute Collection and the Women Works Collection. With on click, a user can learn the collection date range, a summary, biographical/historical notes, genre of collection, subject, etc. Members of the public can make an appointment at any time to use the Study Center at NHF to view moving images, technology, still images/ephemera, books and periodicals.

In 2013, the Association of Moving Image Archivists honored Northeast Historic Film with the Silver Light Award, honoring its substantial contributions to the field.