Being a new staff member here at The Filson, I am still acquainting myself with our Photograph and Print Collections, and exploring all the neat materials we have. Recently, I stumbled across several old, small trunks, tucked away on a bottom shelf among the photograph collections. Intrigued, I opened them up and discovered thirty-eight 16mm reel-to-reel films. Overcome with excitement, I began digging though our records to learn more about the reels and how we acquired them. I discovered an article in The Filson Club History Quarterly that explained it all. In 1944, Judge Arthur E. Hopkins (1881-1944), a member of the Board of Directors of The Filson Club, bequeathed the reels as well as his entire collection of prints, photographs, paintings, books and literature, steamboat scrapbooks, and his collection of Mark Twain works to The Filson.
Arthur E. Hopkins was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1881 to Edwin Sylvester Hopkins, educator and poet, and Mary Orissa Scrugham. As a child, his parents moved the family to Bourbon County, Kentucky where Hopkins would grow up. Hopkins was educated in the public schools of Bourbon County, studied engineering at the University of Kentucky, and law at the University of Louisville, coming to the Bar in 1902. Hopkins was a prominent Louisville, Kentucky attorney and judge; a 1941 mayoral candidate; an active leader in the Republican Party, and the president of the Louisville Board of Aldermen at the time of his death in 1944.
Not only was Hopkins interested in politics and steamboats, he was also a film enthusiast and a member of the Amateur Cinema League. In the book Tributes to Arthur Hopkins, states: “Judge Hopkins and his wife were socially inclined and the Christmas get-togethers in their home were an annual event, with ample refreshments in the best tradition of Kentucky hospitality, and with interludes of 16 millimeter film exhibiting and shooting in the ball room on the top floor, as he was a home moving-making [sic] enthusiast.” Filson staff has thus far been able to determine that his film collection reflects his life of travel across the United States and Europe during the early part of the 20th century.
Among the 39 reels, I discovered three that were labeled “Louisville Scenes” which date to 1930s. Sadly, these three reels, as well as others in the collection, are deteriorating quickly and need immediate attention. It is important to digitize these materials before this unique Louisville history is lost. In an effort to save these “Louisville Scenes” reels, The Filson Historical Society has teamed up with Power 2 Give, a fundraising site which is hosted locally by the Louisville Fund for the Arts.
Please help us save these three reels of never-before-seen footage of the Louisville area by donating to our project. For more information and to donate visit our project on Power 2 Give: http://power2give.org/kentucky/Project/Detail?projectId=1983