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A Tribute to Robbins Barstow

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robbins Barstow (October 24, 1919-November 7, 2010), the Center for Home Movies would like to pay tribute to our friend, mentor and former Advisory Board member. Robbins made films for eight decades and was a life-long advocate for amateur filmmaking and public access television (among many other causes). CHM first met him when he brought some of his films to show at Home Movie Day in Boston. He then allowed us to include his film Tarzan and the Rocky Gorgemade in 1936 when he was 16 years old–on our DVD Living Room Cinema. Always eager to find new audiences for his films, he uploaded many of them to Archive.org, including Disneyland Dream, which was named to the National Film Registry in 2008. Before his death he donated many of the films Barstow Travel Adventure Collection to the Center for Home Movies. They were then transferred to the Library of Congress, which already held a large collection of his films. He donated several of his films to NYU and Northeast Historic Film.

New York Times obituary

Robbins Barstow was a pre-eminent home movie maker of the pre-digital era. He took advantage of–and was constrained by–the nature of 16mm film to use narrated home movies to tell family stories that entertain and inform a wider audience than just the family. This recording of a presentation by his son Dr. David Barstow and Kimberly Tarr of NYU at the 2019 Northeast Historic Film Symposium describes his films, his career, and his craft.

Robbins Barstow Filmography

Date Title
1930s Recreational New England Sailboating in the 1930s
1932-1934 1930’s Barstow family film frolics
1935 Work and play at the Poultry Farm of Charles H. Buck in Naples, Maine
1936 The adventure of the galloping geese
1936 Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge [also 1974 sequel, 2005 about production]
1941 The Abbakadabba Coopno
1942 Honeymoon capers
1942-1951 The way we started out
1943 Everyone’s Coming to the Guild
1943 Hudson Guild Farm
1944 Youth and the Future
1944 Youth and the Future (w/ narration)
1951-1961 Barstow family early film chronicles II: When we were very young
1954-1959 Family camping through 48 states.  Part I, America’s history
1956 Disneyland dream: A true-life Barstow family adventure [also 2009 about production]
1960-1961 Family camping through 48 states.  Part II, America’s wonderlands
1961-1969 Barstow family early film chronicles III: Teen years in Wethersfield
1962 Seattle World’s Fair; Olympic National Park
1966-1968 Eastern Canada; Montreal Expo
1967 Dream trip
1970 Haiti; Puerto Rico
1970-1995 Austin odyssey (short)
1970-1995 Austin odyssey (4 hours)
1971 Hawaii
1972 European Odyssey
1973 Florida; A mid-winter day’s dream
1973 Alaska
1973 Baja boat trip
1974 Colombia Sojourn
1974 The Return of Tarzan & The Lost, Last Whale
1975 California; Nantucket
1976 The Building of “Conny”
1976 Breathtaking Britain
1977 Bermuda
1978 Adventures with African wildlife
1978 Seychelles
1979 Colombia
1982 Spectacular Norway and Sweden. A Scandinavian summer
1985 Come with Us to China!
1985 Eyewitness to Extinction: The Chinese River Dolphin
1986 Whalewatching Adventures in Baja California
1988 Around the World in Forty Days
1990 Neighborhood Backyard Gathering
1991 The Quest for the Great Sperm Whale
1991 Stan Hugill – legendary shantyman
1992 Fete fantastique
1992 On location with French art
1992 Don Sineti sings for whales in Heidelberg
1992 Touring Paris with two grandchildren
1992 Why Whales?
1992 Heidelberg and Whales, with Folksinger Don Sinetti
1994 The International Whaling Commission: Two Historic Meetings
1994 Mary Elizabeth “Cedar” Barstow
1994 Cedar Barstow’s 50th birthday celebration
1996 The happiness equation
1996 “Conny” gets a spout
1996 The humpbacks of Trinity Bay.  Newfoundland whale adventures
1996 The heroic mold of Douglas Fairbanks
1997 1997 Austin graduation milestones
1998 Rediscovering Paul Robeson
1998 Jason Pierre Padilla Barstow
1998 African American art and artist Jacob Lawrence
1998 The Fun of Public Access Television
1998 Paul Robeson – a black American hero for all humanity
1998 Two narrative poems: “The Creation” and “The Highwayman”
1999 Robbins Barstow’s 80th birthday celebration
1999 Fourscore years.  Filmed recollections of a full life
2000 The mystical vistas of Monument Valley
2000 Nature’s greatest movie set
2001 Heritage Sunday
2001 Happy Birthday to Meg
2001 Portrait of a wondrous woman – a celebration of Margaret Vanderbeek’s 80th year
2002 Twenty years of international outreach
2002 “Twas the Night Before Christmas”
2003 The gift of years – aging creatively in America
2003 Teen years in Wethersfield
2003-2004 R.O.O.F. takes to the airways
2004 Paul Rogers Barstow
2004 Scenes from the childhood years of Suzanna Lin Barstow
2005 Fascinating forbears – ten generations of Vanderbeeks in America
2005 The Making of Robbins Barstow’s 1936 “Tarzan” Home Movie
2006 Our hidden heritage – women artists
2006 Next generations – first visit of baby “Meg” to “Fairacre” in Wethersfield
2007 Wethersfield live
2007 Moving images at Culpeper
2007 A home movie for the librarian
2007 Windows on Earth
2008 Video memories of Victor Padilla
2008 We remember family and our home
2008 Barstow family homegathering Christmas
2009 No wonder to compare
2009 Edmonia Lewis – African American Native American sculpture
2009 A new roof for “Fairacre”
2009 Home movies segment from Ken Burns’ PBS series The National Parks:  America’s Best Idea
2009 The making of Disneyland Dream.  Family recollections fifty-three years later
2009 Family Perspectives on a Full Life
2010 John Barstow Film Chronicles, 1921-1983
2010 Robbins Barstow Memorial Service*
2011, 2015 Disneyland Dream Revisited*
2015 Disneyland Dream Revisited Again*
2019 The Craft of Robbins Barstow*

* Produced by David Barstow