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Home Movie Terminology

As a still emergent field for media studies, Home Movies have not generated a consistent vocabulary of terms to describe them, either in academic papers, archival cataloguing, or common parlance. This absence of commonly understood descriptive and analytical terms presents problems for the description and retrieval of Home Movies in cataloguing systems, the prioritization of preservation efforts on their behalf, and growth of intellectual discourse around them.

In 2010, CHM addressed this issue of terminology as part of the 2010 Digitization and Access Summit held at the Library of Congress’s Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The full report from the Summit may be downloaded here, where Section 2.1 “Taxonomy” is devoted to this topic. Primary work on this section of the document was provided by Albert Steg (Center for Home Movies), Karan Sheldon (Northeast Historic Film) and Janis Young (Library of Congress). This “Taxonomy” material is also presented here in a series of browsable pages for more convenient access.

Our hope is to move forward with conversation about these topics, and to encourage adoption of common vocabularies where they are found to be useful and compelling.