Filson Launches YouTube Channel!

By Sarah-Jane Poindexter

Have you ever wondered if the Filson collections include old film footage?  They do!

Have you missed a lecture and wished you could view it later at your convenience?  Now you can!

The Filson is pleased to introduce an institutional YouTube channel.  This channel allows visitors to glimpse digitized footage from historical films & home movies, watch select Filson programming, and see highlights from Filson exhibits.  Check us out at

Our first featured clip is from the Hemp family home movie collection.  Francis May, a neighbor of the Hemp family on Boulevard Napoleon, shows off her dance moves for the camera.

This segment was filmed in 1926 by Shirley Hemp, a Louisville optometrist, family man, and film enthusiast.  At that time, owning film equipment and processing 16mm film was exceptionally cost-prohibitive.  Experimenting with film-making & home movies in the early 20th century was not a casual endeavor; it required a dedicated amount of money, time, and enthusiasm…a far cry from the ease of today's  user-generated and shared digital videos, thus the resulting amount of film was nothing like today's plethora.  What’s more, historic film is a very fragile medium -- it is highly susceptible to degradation from its own chemical make-up, as well as poor storage in humid or unstable environments.  The fact that the Hemp films still exist is remarkable unto itself -- but add to their existence their donation to the Filson collection and then subsequent digitization, and the circumstances are all the more special and rare!  These films are extraordinary in their documentation of Louisville culture and life.  We hope to add more clips from the Hemp collection as the Filson YouTube channel grows.

Check back regularly or add us to your favorites, as new content will be added frequently.

Thank you to Laura Hartford and Ryan Daly for their essential help in digitizing the Hemp family home movies.

Filson Historical

4 comments on “Filson Launches YouTube Channel!

  1. Kallie F. O'rnea

    Fabulous post and what an utterly brilliant idea; The Filson YouTube Channel! I’m very curious to obtain more specific information regarding the various agents of deterioration and their harmful effects on this particular medium. Also wondering about the chemical make-up of these Hemp films.

  2. ky news

    LOL, I love that video, I’m glad you have your own kentucky channel now. I cant believe that film is from the twenties, that’s so crazy!! And that ky girl was sure dancing up a jig – or whatever dance that was called back then. Thanks for the glance into history 😀

  3. Debbie

    Shirley Hemp was my grandmother’s cousin 🙂 I loved seeing the film on the news last night. We found the film in my grandmothers basement after she died in 1999.

    1. Jennie Cole

      Thanks for your comment, Debbie! We appreciate caring for and sharing this fabulous treasure!


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