August 13, 2015

A word from the filmmaker

The Arthur H. Freedman Collection at the Harvard Film Archives 

and the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Museum of the Harvard College Library.

Freedman pictured with his collection

Arthur Freedman, pictured with his collection.  Photo by Patricia Ann Pelland

Statement by the documentarian Arthur Freedman

August 13, 2015

I am honored to have my life’s work inducted into these prestigious collections. In 2012 I was contacted by Elizabeth Coffey, Film Conservator for the Harvard Film Archive, and by Peter Laurence and David Ackerman of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. They had heard of my extensive documentation on audio and video of unsigned local bands that played in the nightclubs around Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and surrounding locales. I have had various write-ups and press over the years, and evidently it resonated with the progressive thinking at Harvard to see how it would integrate into an historic place amongst the more recognized works. Special thanks go out to Robert Dennis and Denise Gorayeb, along with those at Harvard who were, are, and will be involved in this project, with whom I am not familiar.

I would like to call to your attention several individuals who had very significant roles in collaboration with me, without whose support much of my work would not have been possible. First and foremost, Patricia Ann Pelland, who is a fine emerging photographer; the photograph of me amongst my recordings was taken by her. Patricia was often my roadie, collaborator on the Boston Archives Project, my wife and partner for over 10 years, and now, a quarter of a century later, still my best friend. Others include Timothy Fulham; Thomas White, videographer at MIT, film maker, guitarist for Unnatural Axe, Beach Combovers and several other bands; Kevin Boisevert; Timothy Jackson; Karen DiBiasse; Linda Cardinal; Paul Lovell; Timothy Maxwell; Steven Nelson; William McCarthy; Joseph and Nabil Sater; William Ruane; Jan Crocker; Mark Hussey, Steven Morse, Tristram Lozaw, Andrew Smith, Kris Fell. I am also grateful to musicians who thanked me from the stage, on their records and cds, and those who signed releases, as well those who called me to come and record them.

My audio recordings were primarily done using cassette tape and 2 microphones.  Video was almost always single camera, either hand-held or tripod.

Occasionally I had equipment problems, and it is a deep regret that I did not have better gear with which to work and additional camera operators with whom to collaborate. During the era in which I was recording, there were very few people doing what I was doing. The time of camera phones and miniature video cameras had not arrived, and 99% of the time I was the only one dedicated to chronicling the careers of bands I cared about. Regardless, the recordings are a time capsule of the music at a time of great creativity and energy. The bands with whom I worked were unsigned, unknown, sometimes underappreciated, and often forgotten. There were many times I would be one of only a few people in the audience. Those of you who attend large venue concerts do not have the connection to the musicians as I have had. I invite you to listen to these bands and let your imagination take you to dive bars with a dance floor where the audiences’ heads are bopping and a dance called the pogo is hep cat go man go!

Since very early in my recordings, I always wanted the bands to be vested in the project; I tried to make the recordings and my time available. The tapes were becoming more numerous and preservation of the fragile magnetic media was always on my mind, but due to financial constraints, time and resources, it has taken till now with the wonderful folks at Harvard to begin this monumental project. The recordings had never been properly cataloged and now that that has been accomplished, I am astonished at the breadth of what I have done. I still have additional recordings that I will be adding to this collection and there are some real treasures in those.

This collection will include additional works from me shortly and over time. On 7.26.1981, I was recording Mission of Burma and The Stains at the Paradise. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and my car was stolen. In it was a case containing nearly 60 sets of my favorite early tapes I had recorded; they were never recovered. It is my hope that in watching, listening, and discovering the bands among my recordings that you step out, pay the cover charge and see some of these great bands yourselves. Please support live music, buy bands’ compact discs, records, and merchandise, and immerse yourself in one of the coolest eras of creativity. You will have the best times of your lives.

As I have previously mentioned, most of these bands are likely unknown to you, so I will offer several websites that can be useful in learning more:

Some of the performers and participants whose voices have been silenced:

I invite band members band members to sign releases, donate cds, records, tapes, set lists, personnel lists and contact information, posters, and flyers from any of the sets listed and help to make this one of the most important music history collections of the late 20th and early 21st century.

Thank you to all who give this project more than a passing glance.

Arthur Freedman


It was Tom White (Unnatural Axe, Beach Combovers) who tipped me off to Arthur’s collection.  I had recently been talking to Billy Ruane about his own extensive collection of local band recordings, and was rather heartbroken to learn that most of these tapes were lost when Billy stopped paying the bill on a storage container.  I didn’t want anything to happen to Arthur’s recordings, and hoped he would be interested in getting them into cold storage at Harvard.  We were very pleased when he agreed to give us this important collection.  ~Liz Coffey

Posted in Arthur Freedman Collection, Local interest, Rock and Roll on 13 August 2015 at 4:17 pm by conservator1
August 4, 2015

Tuesday poster

For our August selection, the world premiere screening poster for Ed Pincus and David Newman’s powerful documentary, Black Natchez. The Ed Pincus Collection finding aid has information for HFA materials on this and other projects.


Black Natchez (1967)

Posted in Ed Pincus Collection, poster on 4 August 2015 at 5:40 pm by conservator3
June 19, 2015

Images from the Soviet Film Collection

We have come across some compelling images in the Soviet Film Collection prints. Herewith a selection of our staff favorites, with photos from project film specialist Adrianne Jorge:



A Great Life (1939)


The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)


Regina (1990)


The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)


The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)


Watch out for the Automobile! (1966)


Malva (1957)


The Thirteenth Apostle (1988)


The Thirteenth Apostle (1988)


Tears Dripped (1983)


Unidentified film


Unidentified film


We are from Kronstadt (1936)


We are from Kronstadt (1936)


Native Blood (1963)


A Great Life (1939)


Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)


Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)


Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)


Unidentified film

Posted in Archivists' pick, new collections, Soviet Film Collection on 19 June 2015 at 3:56 pm by conservator3
June 9, 2015

International Archives Day!

Today marks International Archives Day! We are celebrating by working through our very last pallet of film prints from the newly acquired Soviet Film collection. Here are some before and after photos to show the processing work undertaken for the rehousing and preservation of these films:

The prints in their original containers

The prints in their original containers

Prints rehoused in new preservation cans

Prints rehoused in new preservation cans


Star project employee Adrianne Jorge, hard at work!


Cataloged and stored in boxes, these prints are ready for cold storage

Posted in new collections, Soviet Film Collection on 9 June 2015 at 5:43 pm by conservator3
May 26, 2015

Cbema film stock

While processing our recently acquired Soviet Film Collection we came across some stocks with unusual color fading properties. One stock in particular was perplexing: Cbema (or Svema.) Even new prints on Cbema stock frequently look faded to pink or orange, and often have extreme differences in fading between reels. Some research uncovered this great article about how these odd fading properties were utilized by filmmakers to communicate aesthetically the bleak realities many faced in former Soviet countries.


Although many of the Cbema prints we have encountered thus far have been faded, there are some titles with fantastic color, as pictured below.

















Posted in new collections, Soviet Film Collection on 26 May 2015 at 6:22 pm by conservator3
May 12, 2015

Second Tuesday poster

From the HFA poster collection: Fellini’s masterpiece in glorious Technicolor!

Juliet of the Spirits (1965)

Juliet of the Spirits (1965)

Posted in poster on 12 May 2015 at 6:20 pm by conservator3
April 14, 2015

Second Tuesday poster

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Posted in poster on 14 April 2015 at 6:17 pm by conservator3
April 3, 2015

New collection of Soviet films

Checking films_3

Over the next few months the HFA will be processing a large collection of feature films from the former Soviet Union. This collection of Soviet Cinema prints was collected in the 1990s by several collectors in Latvia. There is a great range of titles from the silent era to the late 1990s. 14 pallets of 35mm film canisters came in to the Harvard Depository, our offsite storage facility, this morning, and we brought some select titles back to the conservation center to begin work immediately.
We’ll be posting more about this collection and any unique findings as we process the films.

First batch brought back to 625



anamorphic format Nachalo

Stay tuned!


Posted in collection update, Soviet Film Collection on 3 April 2015 at 3:21 pm by conservator3
March 24, 2015

April Fools’ Day news film

Just in time for April 1, this 1973 short news piece from NYC Channel 2 WCBS-TV was at the top of our 16mm film inspection queue today.


This humorous piece has a local reporter interviewing passerby about who they would elect as the 1973 April Fool. Folks overwhelmingly voted for Nixon, with “Average New Yorkers” and “Mayor Lindsay” coming in at close seconds. One cheerful cyclist elected “Pedestrians who cross the street without looking at the traffic lights”, while another interviewee nominated “The general electorate…because they voted for Nixon!”

This cyclist wants pedestrians to watch the traffic lights!

This cyclist wants pedestrians to watch the traffic lights!

Other questions included, “How will you celebrate April Fools’ Day?” and “Should April Fools’ Day continue to be held every year, or every four years?” to which one woman enthusiastically responded, “There are enough foolish New Yorkers! Hold it every four!”

Disappointed that his interviewees were “so serious” in their responses, the reporter turned and showed his own April Fools’ Day humor, in true New York fashion.


A WCBS-TV April Fools’ Day prank from 1973

Happy April Fools’ Day!


Posted in Archivists' pick on 24 March 2015 at 5:02 pm by conservator3
March 10, 2015

Poster Tuesday

Kanal (1957) directed by Andrzej Wajda. From the Harvard Film Archive poster collection. Browse more HFA images from the HOLLIS+ catalog here.


Kanal (1957) directed by Andrzej Wajda

Posted in poster on 10 March 2015 at 2:13 pm by conservator3