KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cannisters of old film footage of historic people and places in Knoxville, including WATE, are stored in a special vault deep within the East Tennessee History Center downtown. It’s all part of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound or TAMIS.
TAMIS Audio Visual Archivist John Morton likes nothing better than to carefully go through old film reels, never knowing what kind of treasure he’ll find from some of your old home movies.
“A lot of our most fascinating artifacts are coming from these family collections, and it’s really interesting for folks to rediscover their movies and to kind of take stock of how time has passed and how all of a sudden their home movies have historical content,” Morton said.
The earliest footage found to date: 1915 in Knoxville and images of horse-drawn fire engines racing down Commerce Street.
“You can see folks on the street, I think there’s a dog running around,” Morton said, “really charming clip.”
It’s a video transfer of the original film footage shot by noted photographer Jim Thompson.
In addition to the amazing footage that dates back years and years, if you look closely, you’ll find all kinds of odds and ends. We stumbled upon a Channel 6 coffee mug that Morton said looks to be from the 1970s.
Speaking of Channel 6, priceless footage from WATE’s early years and all kinds of other footage are all stored in TAMIS’ climate-controlled vault.
As Morton showed us, “this is a consolidated reel of news clips from WATE Channel 6.”
Another recent find: a WATE interview with Dolly Parton from 1975.
From Dolly to just regular scenes from around town, great care is taken to preserve the delicate films coming in. Films that tell our collective story.
If you have old footage to share, you might want to do it now.
“They get stored in basements or attics, you know, that’s pretty common and if we can get them out of those environments , those aren’t very stable,” Morton explained. “If you can get them someplace like here, where we have a climate-controlled vault that will do a lot to preserve those original elements, extend their life span by decades or maybe even a century or two.”
Visit @tamis on Facebook or call 865-215-8856