Unique amateur films from the John K. Caldwell papers have been preserved

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Composite image from John K. Caldwell videos.
Composite image from John K. Caldwell videos.

Unique amateur films from the John K. Caldwell papers have been preserved thanks to a 2012 National Film Preservation Foundation grant.

Caldwell Reel 3, one of two films preserved under the grant, features a funeral in 1930s Tianjin (formerly Tientsin), China; flowers and botanical gardens in Geneva, Switzerland, and Bangkok, Thailand; and the Vaucluse House in Sydney, Australia.  The film was shot in Kodacolor, an early three-color process for 16mm film.  Kodak introduced this lenticular film—composed of tiny lenses on the film’s emulsion that captured bands of red, green, and blue information as light passed through a special camera lens—in 1928.  Shot between 1930 and 1936, this reel offers rare color views of life in Asia, Europe, and Australia in the 1930s.

Caldwell Reel 7 features major flooding in Tianjin, China, in 1939, with people using boats and makeshift vessels to travel through flooded city streets.  The footage also includes color scenes of flood victims in refugee camps outside the city; the US consulate general building in Tianjin, China; and a Chinese funeral. 

The Caldwell grant is the second grant that the Hoover Institution has received from the National Film Preservation Foundation.