Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rare, Vintage Films of Charles City, Iowa

Several years ago, my family discovered several canisters of home movies that had been taken by my grandfather, Dr. Charles McQuillen.   These films include some of the earliest ever seen film footage of Charles City.  The little girl featured in many of the shots is my mother, Janan McQuillen Thomson.  She was born in 1923.  Given her apparent age from the film of 5 or 6, that would date the film to 1928-1929....the end of the roaring 20s.

You'll see some incredible shots of Central Park, Main Street and the central business district.  There's also footage at Wildwood Golf Course.   Additionally, there are some venues that we're still trying to identify--some of which appear to shot outside of Charles City.

Other people you'll see in this film include Mary Lou McQuillen Sellman, my mom's older sister.  She was in her teens.  My grandmother, Francis (Fan) B. McQuillen appears as does her mother, Mary Bradley. There are several shots of my grandfather, Dr. Charles McQuillen, who actually shot most of the film.
40 Years Later......
Janan McQuillen Thomson (left) and Fan B. McQuillen in the 1970s

The process of getting a home movies produced was extraordinary in this era.  The cameras were big and bulky.  After shooting a roll of film, it had to be sent to Eastman-Kodak in New York for processing, which often took up to several months.

This latest remastering was completed in December, 2010 by the talented team at Preston Video in Dallas, Texas.  This version is without any edits so you'll be seeing exactly what the McQuillens saw when they viewed their home movies.

I welcome your questions and comments about these films.  I'm hoping as more people view the films, that we'll be able to identify more people and places.  Please no duplication, broadcast, sale or other distribution without permission.

To view the film, please click the link below.  (NOTE:  There are several seconds of black screen between shots.  Total video run time is 12 minutes 58 seconds)   Also, as you'll see, several of the films were reversed.  We are in the process of correcting this and will repost updated videos when completed.  


Peter Thomson
Twitter:  pwthomson
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Email:  pwthomson@live.com