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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808
info@chicagofilmarchives.org

Maggie And The Somersaulter-Moats and Somersaulter Finding Aid

 

This past summer, CFA was lucky enough to have Maggie Sivit as an intern. Amongst other things, she crafted the finding aid for the Somersaulter-Moats and Somersaulter Collection for us. Here is what Maggie had to say about her experience creating the finding aid:

 

Two months ago, I arrived at Chicago Film Archives as a summer intern. One of the projects I worked on during my time at CFA was the development of a finding aid for the Somersaulter-Moats and Somersaulter collection.

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a kind of research guide to a particular collection. It is a compendium of records of the works, organizations, and individuals associated with a group of films. It typically includes an abstract and overview, which answer questions such as: What films are included in this collection? When were they made, for what purpose, and by whom? Additionally, a finding aid includes metadata (e.g., geolocation tags, Library of Congress Subject Headings, production dates, etc.), access and restriction information, and media samples.

Why are finding aids important?

Finding aids are useful to researchers, as well as to anyone who wants to learn about the collections in an archive. Without these records, films might be archivally preserved, but no one would know anything about them or how they related to one another. (Furthermore, unless you visited the physical archive, you might have no idea that they existed.) A finding aid communicates a body of work clearly and succinctly; it provides a collection with context and coherence.

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LORD THING materials found!

Well it happened more quickly than we thought it could.  Last year South Side Projections and the South Side Community Arts Center presented a program that included CFA’s THE CORNER (1963, Robert Ford) and a VHS copy of LORD THING, a documentary on the Conservative Vice Lords shot from 1954 to 1969 made by Dewitt Beall.  Over the years, the film materials to the LORD THING had disappeared.  Mike Phillips of South Side Projections gave us some preliminary leads to trace the film elements and prints, but all became dead ends.  That is when CFA contacted Buckey Grimm who said, “If it’s out there, I will find it.”  And BAM, he did!

CFA has received the extensive film materials used to create this extraordinary documentary that over the span of 15 years examines the evolution of the Chicago street gang called the Vice Lords. It “begins in the ghetto streets of the mid-Fifties— a virtual combat zone for dozens of small neighborhood gangs from different parts of the city [that in time unite] forces in a common cause.” The film unfolds within a period that begins when the Supreme Court struck down the practice of segregation to when the civil rights movement was at its height (1954-1969). In 1970, it won the Silver Medal in the Venice Film Festival, but never got into distribution.

A huge debt of gratitude goes to film researcher extraordinaire Buckey Grimm who located the film materials with Elina Katsioula-Beall in California.  She has cared for her husband’s films since his passing and is donating the Beall Collection to Chicago Film Archives. CFA will be submitting a proposal to the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve this film that documents a typically inaccessible part of Chicago’s past.

If you would like to be a preservation partner of our newest acquisition, the DeWitt Beall collection, give us a call at 312-243-1808 or email info@chicagofilmarchives.org.

- Nancy

RUTH PAGE COLLECTION

LOVE SONG (1947)

“Ruth Page (1899-1999) embraced a life of artistic restlessness, in which a quest for the new, with a refusal to conform to any one style of dance, became her legacy.  Emanating from Chicago, the visionary work of Ruth Page influenced the growth of theater design, opera ballet, and dance.  She achieved worldwide recognition as a true pioneer of dance in America.”

- Lon Gordon, Professor of Fine Arts at Illinois State University

Stunning in size and scope, this moving image collection documents and preserves the dance legacy and artistic circle of choreographer, Ruth Page, named by the Dance Heritage Coalition as one of America’s 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.  The largest collection of moving image materials related to Ruth Page, it is a worthy complement to the vast manuscript collection that resides at the Jerome Robins Dance Division of the New York Public Library and the Newberry Library in Chicago.

This collection contains rehearsals and performances that date back to 1922 including footage of Rudolph Nureyev soon after his defection from the Soviet Union, Balinese dances filmed during Page’s 1928 Asian Tour, and performances of The Merry Widow on the Ed Sullivan Show.  It also contains numerous interviews with dance critics such as Clive Barnes and John Martin, dancers such as Larry Long, Delores Lipinski, Anne Kisselgoff and Maria Tallchief, and a comprehensive series of interviews and oral histories with Page herself that date from 1957 through 1987.  Among the dozens of Ruth Page ballets that are contained in this collection is a 35mm print of Bolero danced in 1928 at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL.  To our knowledge, this is the only existing moving image representation of that performance.