The Sydney Jewish Museum wants your old family films

April 16, 2013 by Henry Benjamin
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The Sydney Jewish Museum has launched its Moving Image and Sound Archive…and is calling for communal contributions.

Caroline and Emil Sherman with Shannon Maguire [rt]

Caroline and Emil Sherman with Shannon Maguire [rt]   Photo: Henry Benjamin

Curator Shannon Maguire told J-Wire that the museum wants that family footage which is tucked away in a drawer in many homes throughout the State.

She said: “Naturally we want to digitise it…but that is a long and expensive process. Unless those contributing can help us with the the cost of the process, it could take up to nine months before we can return the footage. But it will be held in safe hands and under special conditions to protect the material.”

Maguire says that there is little in the archives at the moment and most of what they have contains images of unidentified people. The project plans to catalogue the contributions tagging as many individuals as possible.

She told J-Wire: “The museum has had a limited archive since its inception. I was in New York several years ago meeting with the curator at the Museum of Jewish heritage. Their oral history collection is curated as objects which makes sense as they are susceptible to deterioration. Film and sound objects need special conditions. Temperature affects them a lot more than other items. They need more care than physical objects so they need a stable environment.”


The featured old footage in this film contains unidentified members of a bygone generation
Maguire also visited a museum in Singapore which had made special inroads into curating sound and film. She said: “They made special representation to the community on updating for example an annual community event so they had a record of the way the event was celebrated or commemorated  in different generations.  Seeing the different ways a community has marked occasions enhances the experience.”

The museum would make all contributions available to its visitors…not just the collection highlights. “Everything we have is available even though it may not be exhibited. If we are contacted for information we do all we can to satisfy each enquiry.”

Since the project was launched the museum has received footage of a wedding at The Great Synagogue in Sydney filmed in the 1930s. “We know the family who contributed it and those featuring in the footage have been identified. We also got from them family footage taken in their home in Goulburn which had a small Jewish community at that time. About ten years ago the museum mounted an exhibition called ‘The Jews of Goulburn’ and that footage would have featured had we had it at the time.”

Maguire could not name a year before which she was seeking material. “If an event happened last week which was of importance to communal history, then we would want that for the archive.”

Readers who wish to contribute to the Sydney Jewish Museum Moving Image and Sound Archive should contact Shannon Maguire on (02) 9360 7999.


One Response to “The Sydney Jewish Museum wants your old family films”
  1. Shirley says:

    What a delightful video.Looking forward to seeing more!

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