New digitization project captures 50 years of McMaster on film

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Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections
McMaster Alumnus and actor/comedian Martin Short (left) appears with a classmate in a series of sketches created for psychology course, ‘Personality and Psychopathology, Psychology 1A6.’  The footage, from 1978, is one of a number of McMaster videos and films that have recently been made public as part of a new digitization project funded by the Class of 1950.

McMaster Alumnus and actor/comedian Martin Short (left) appears with a classmate in a series of sketches created for psychology course, ‘Personality and Psychopathology, Psychology 1A6.’  The footage, from 1978, is one of a number of McMaster videos and films that have recently been made public as part of a new digitization project funded by the Class of 1950.

From the pomp and circumstance of convocation ceremonies in the 1930s to a short film produced and directed by celebrated McMaster alumnus Ivan Reitman, a new video digitization project is taking vintage McMaster films and making them publicly accessible for the first time online.

Thanks to a gift from the Class of 1950, McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, has digitized a number of films and videos that have been in storage for decades.

The films, shot between 1930 to 1980, capture a number of key events and prominent figures in the University’s past including the opening and dedication ceremonies held after McMaster relocated to Hamilton in 1930 and footage of George Gilmour and Harry Thode, both of whom served as McMaster’s President and Vice-Chancellor in the 1950s and 60s.

The films also capture student life over the decades and feature some hidden gems including a series of skits created for a psychology lecture and performed by McMaster alumus and actor/comedian Martin Short, as well as Orientation, a short film produced and directed in 1968 by McMaster alumnus, Ivan Reitman and the McMaster Film Board. The film. According to Reitman, the film was the forerunner to his comedy classic, Animal House.

The Class of 1950
The Class of 1950 at Alumni Reunion Day, 2015.

“These films are snapshots of McMaster’s history,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian, Collections. “This is about making that history accessible to a much larger audience and making sure that these films are preserved.”

Wyckoff says that so far, roughly a third of the collection has been digitized, adding that more videos will be digitized in the near future.

“This gift leaves a wonderful legacy,” says Wyckoff. “It ensures that this important archive will be available not just to current students, staff, faculty and alumni, but to the McMaster community for generations to come.”

Long-time supporters of McMaster University Library­, the Class of 1950 have provided funding for a number of Library technology projects over the years– most notably the McMaster University Library Gateway Project in 2002. This project resulted in a redesign of the Library’s website, making easier for users to access the Library’s diverse array of electronic resources at that time.