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Library and Museum digitising masonic films with help from East Anglian Film Archive

Friday, 04 September 2015

Reel attraction

To preserve captured moments in the history of Freemasonry, the Library and Museum is digitising masonic films to enable anyone to view them

The Library and Museum stores and cares for collections of older records on behalf of Grand Lodge and the masonic charities. Among these are films such as a 1929 newsreel of a ceremony marking the extension at Treloar Hospital in Hampshire, and a film made for the RMBI in 1978 entitled Life in Our Homes. 

Former head of the East Anglian Film Archive David Cleveland was asked by the Library and Museum to undertake a survey of the film reels to identify duplicates, and to advise on methods of destruction for some of the duplicate material. 

Current recommendations are for the transfer of reel film to digital media for long-term preservation. The process is costly but the Library and Museum has received support from London’s Screen Archives (LSA), which transferred 16 film titles to digital media at no charge, courtesy of the British Film Institute’s Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund. The digitisation was completed by Prime Focus in London’s Soho.

All 16 titles will be accessible with full descriptions at the LSA website. After copying, the reel films are kept in specialist storage at the London Metropolitan Archives. With half of the film titles in its collection now available online, the Library and Museum is working on ways to preserve the rest of its film collection. 

Films can currently be viewed at the BFI Player portal: http://player.bfi.org.uk/search