Thursday, January 14, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Reel to Reel Home Movies

My grandfather always had a love for photography. He took lots of photos during WWII when he was stationed in Alaska. He helped to turn a tar papered shanty into a photo lab with some other men. When he bought his new house, he had to build a dark room before he could move the family into the house. He had lots of camera equipment and negatives and photos all through his home.

When I visited my grandma last month, I went searching for more goodies. I came across two metal boxes containing old 8mm film rolls. These films contain home movies from when my mom was a child.

Here comes the big question: What do I do with them now?

I know what I want the final product to be: a DVD. But how do I get there?

I am seeking any advice from fellow genealogists who have undertaken a similar project. Did you convert the movies yourself? How did you do it? Did you sent them to a company? Which company? What were the results? Did you find a local provider?

I'm so afraid of damaging them, that I don't know what to do. Plus I don't want this project to cost too much money. So I am asking the people that I trust to give me great advice: geneabloggers!

Please leave me a comment with your experiences or send me an email to Thanks for any help you can give.


  1. Hi, Tina,

    My brother and I did this about four years ago with my father's collection of Super 8 movies. There were two considerations: 1) transferring the movies before they became too fragile and 2) just being able to *see* them, since most of us had no access to the right projector for them.

    As it turned out, the films were in fantastic condition, having been stored in a cool, dark and dry basement. We used an expert in another state, who had come highly recommended, and we were very happy with the result. If there's anybody in your area with a film repository -- like a college or a historical society -- they might be able to give you a recommendation for a reputable person. Good luck!

  2. The 8mm films brings back memories for me as well. I totally agree that you should convert them and preserve for future generations. Try a company called Scancafe Now I know that they do photo and image restoration but not sure about films but maybe they can guide you in the right direction. Please store this valuable treasure and share it with the most important people in your life. Good luck and let me know how it all goes, my contact is

  3. Yes, as others say, they can and should be preserved and converted. Mine from the early 1950s are starting to show signs of deterioration... depending on the quality of the original film used in the camera... their time is coming... We had converted to VHS tapes a number of years ago, and then to digital. Direct conversion would have been better, I'm sure!

    Do what it takes!

    Keep these ancestor stories coming!

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"