The Alan Lewis Collection, donated in 2017, is comprised of nearly two hundred small gauge movie cameras and fifty projectors, film editing and viewing equipment, along with many of their original cases, sales boxes, instruction manuals, and accessories. The diverse collection represents a unique selection of moving image technologies produced from the 1920s through the 1980s, showcasing a diversity of film gauges and formats - from regular 8mm, double 8mm, and 16mm on spools or in magazines to super 8mm cartridges.
Alan Lewis, a moving image archivist most recently for the National Archives in Washington D.C., worked for the Public Television Library (PTL) of PBS right here in Bloomington, IN between 1973-74. PTL worked closely with the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center (IUAVC), a precursor to the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA), and WTIU Public Television to acquire nonlocal TV programs for national distribution. Later in his career, while working for the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch of the National Archives, Alan began collecting the very technologies that created the moving images he oversaw during his career.
Overall, the collection reveals the stylistic evolution and vast diversity of amateur moviemaking equipment, as well as its beauty. From the extravagant ostrich leather casing of the 16mm Ciné-Kodak Model B to the industrial portability of the 8mm Revere Series exists the aesthetic blending of art and utility. As a testament to the craftsmanship of the collection objects, many cameras and projectors are still in working order! A selection of camera motor function recordings can be heard in the exhibit's Audio Archive.
The collection represents an important form of moving image history and technology outside of commercial Hollywood production. These are the objects that captured and shared the everyday, the familial, the nontheatrical, and so much more. A few of the cameras even hold film from their last cinematic adventures, patiently guarding their visual memories with stoic resolve until they might one day reveal their truths to the world.
Choose a motion picture brand below to view an image gallery of select collection objects. Owner's manuals, advertisements, and promotional materials are included with select objects when available. Some galleries include an audio recording of camera motor function when in working order. These cameras are marked with an * for easy identification and an audio archive with all camera recordings is provided at the bottom of the brand list for convenience.
Caleb Allison, Archivist Assistant