Invaluable Help from MIRC

Marine Corps

Marine Corps film still

USC Libraries has four special collections units, each with significant reputations.  The newest of these treasures is our Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC).  MIRC is in the news this month because of its receipt of the United States Marine Corps Film Repository.  You may have heard USC has initiated a $25,000 project to digitize all footage from Parris Island, S.C., and is seeking contributions.

The Marine Corps archive joins MIRC’s internationally important, ever-growing collection, which is anchored by Fox Movietone News.  More important for SCPC’s purposes, MIRC oversees the WIS Newsfilm collection, which contains any number of pieces relating to SCPC donors.  MIRC staff are always helpful in locating films we need and also provides invaluable assistance in reformatting some of our own films, such as the 1960 clip showing then-governor Fritz Hollings and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy speaking from the State House steps.

JFK microphones

The microphone holders used for the 1960 Kennedy campaign speech and donated by Jim Covington

That clip was filmed by journalist and friend to the Libraries Jim Covington.  When we played it on the big screen in the Hollings Library Program Room a while back, Jim brought and donated the microphones he used on that occasion.  The mics were the state-of-the-art in 1960 and very distinctive.

Recently, Jim suggested that the WIS collection should include footage he shot sixty years ago of Hollings being sworn in as a US Senator.  Since Hollings was elected in a special election to complete the unexpired term of Olin Johnston, who had died in office the previous year, this took place in November of 1966.  This gave Hollings a boost in seniority over the regularly elected new senators who were sworn in on January 1.

Hollings

Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings in 1969

Most archivists love the challenge of a good puzzle and Amy Ciesielski Meaney took on the daunting task of locating the film.  Not all of the WIS film is clearly identified; in fact, some is not labelled at all.  After much searching, Amy found a film labeled only Nov. 9-16, 1966.  In reviewing the film, she saw Hollings, but the clip did not have sound and she could only hope that it was the swearing in, a rather informal affair in the office of the Secretary of the Senate.  Amy emailed some frames from the film and it looked right.  I asked graduate assistant Mary Clare Johnson to look in the Hollings collection news clippings to see if she could find any showing the ceremony.  Within a half hour Mary Clare brought a clipping with a photo identical to one of the stills: “Hollings signs Senate payroll.”

It’s wonderful when things work out.  We hope soon to provide a link to the film so everyone can see it and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this occasion.  I only wish I had started this ball rolling in time to share the clip on the actual day of the event, November 9th.

By Herb Hartsook

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