BY OLIVIA DORFMAN
Herman B Wells left a remarkable legacy at Indiana University: expanding the school in both size and reputation, fiercely supporting academic freedom, and fighting racial segregation. He also left a detailed record of his 70-year career, including 23 reels of home movies.
Through a joint project of the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA) and the Indiana University Archives, the movies are now available to view online. From joyful images of Wells’ Irish setter, Red, romping in the grass, to eerie footage he took of Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” mountaintop aerie, the films offer a rare glimpse at the intersection of Wells’ personal and professional interests.
Dina Kellams, director of the Indiana University Archives, says of the collection, “It is Herman B Wells.” Wells served in a succession of academic and administrative roles at IU, but he also consulted for the U.S. Department of State, the American Council on Education, and various post-World War II European projects—and he took his movie camera wherever he traveled. Closer to home, he filmed visits to Camp Brosius (the Wisconsin lake property now owned by IUPUI), family reunions, and vacations. Wells presided over an expansion of the university’s outreach as a media resource, and his home movies are now part of the IULMIA, housed in the Herman B Wells campus library.
IULMIA was created six years ago when the university’s Audio-Visual Center materials were transferred to the library. Since then, the archive has developed into a state-of-the-art operation to preserve and convert media from obsolete formats (such as 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8 film, and Beta and VHS video) through digitization or film-to-film transfer.
The archive also holds public events related to film care and preservation. For example, the archive hosted its annual Home Movie Day in October.
The archive is particularly eager to discover home movies from the public featuring Indiana University or Bloomington. “Our focus is Indiana University and its people,” Kellams says.
If you have a home movie you think might be of interest, contact the archive at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view the Wells home movies, visit magbloom.com/wells-movies.