Lights, Camera ...
In 2017, The National Parks Service History Collection prepared a Finding Aid, titled “Stephen Tyng Mather Film Collection 1920-1929 (bulk dates: 1925-1929)”
The Finding Aid states “Around 1924, Mather purchased a Bell and Howell 16mm Cine camera and Filmo Cine Projector. He used the camera to create home movies that document his family life, national parks he visited, and special events. From 1925-1928, he made dozens of films while traveling to national parks as part of his annual inspection tours, as well as during trips to Alaska and Hawaii.”
The collection contains 40 16mm films. A portion of the description in the Finding Aid reads “16mm, silent, black and white films taken by NPS Director Stephen T. Mather with his Bell and Howell Cine camera. Films document trips to national parks from c.1924-1929, including Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Redwoods, Isle Royale, and Rocky Mountain as well as trips to Hawaii and Alaska…”
In a small cabinet beneath the bookshelves on the East wall of the Keeping Room is a leather case with the initials S.T.M. When opened there is wording on the case: “Reward $25.00 Return to Stephen T. Mather Department of the Interior National Park Service Washington D.C.”
In the case? The Bell & Howell 16mm Filmo Cine Camera, a roll of 16mm film, and the instruction book. Here, appropriately in the “Keeping Room,” is the very same camera Stephen T. Mather used nearly one hundred years ago to keep and preserve the beauty and allure of the National Parks and promote its place and purpose in the nation.