Update #4: Harry Stilson’s Impact…Pretty Impressive!

Harris Stilson had a movie camera. I know that because I donated his surviving movies to VCU Libraries. I also have the movie camera, which I found in my aunt’s basement, along with the instructions and price sheet. I even have his journal entry where he says “Miss Day of Galeski Optical has loaned me free of charge a moving picture camera and projection in hopes I will buy one in the coming year.” Miss Day was a savvy salesperson because that entry was October 1928 and the movies  were from 1929-1931.

In a press release, VCU stated it is believed the the films are the oldest in any cultural institution in Virginia and “a unique treasure… expected to have broad interest to scholars, students, documentarians and others interested in early 20th century urban life, Virginia and Richmond history, race relations, urban studies, architectural history and more.”

That is why I wrote the book and why I want the pictures available to more than just family. So many fields impacted by Harris Stilson’s documentation of early 1900s. We have entire collections of historic areas now gone, including Rockett’s Landing and Maggie Walker’s St. Luke Penny Saving Bank. Honestly, we don’t even know what we have because we’re investigating and researching every day. Backing my book through Kickstarter keeps the work going so that all those students of all those diverse studies can find documentation and apply Harry’s images to their work. As for the rest of us, it’s just a fascinating read!

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