Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Historic 1915 Silent Film Available

Historic 1915 Silent Film Available in University Libraries’ Digital Media Repository
by Maren L. Read, Assistant Archivist for Manuscript Collections

Almost 15 years after it was discovered and restored, the historic film The Man Haters is now accessible online through the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository.

This rare 1915 silent movie is one of the few surviving films documenting life in the World War I years, and it provides a rich resource for film and history students at Ball State University and researchers around the world.

The film was produced by Basil McHenry, a traveling film producer from Akron, Ohio. He financed the film with sponsorship byMuncie's MajesticTheater and The Muncie Evening Press newspaper. Readers of the Press were asked to cast their votes for the leading actresses using coupons printed in the newspaper. Out of Muncie’s population of 34,000, there were over 22,000 votes cast in the contest. Dora Grim, a 17-year-old telephone operator, won the starring role of Ruth and 16-year old Vernon Davis was cast as the male lead. Filming began in Muncie, Indiana on November 3, 1915.

The movie opened at the Majestic Theater at417 South Walnut on November 15, 1915. The film contains rich documentation of theMuncie landscape and local life in the early 20th century. Basil McHenry also produced similar films in other towns in Indiana and Ohio. Archives and Special Collections acquired the film from the Dora Grim-Vlaskamp family in 1994.

The family found it in storage at a local car dealership. Nancy Turner, former director of Archives and Special Collections, and the late William (Bill) Barnett, former Director ofLibrary Business Services, recognized the importance of the film and applied for a$3,000 grant from the Indiana Humanities Council to have the original 35mm nitrate film transferred to VHS and music, narration, and additional footage added. The film was shown at numerous screenings in Indiana and nationwide and a documentary on the film aired on the History Channel.The Man Haters Collection contains the 10-minute original version and the longer documentary version of the film, newspaper clippings about the contest, still photographs from the film, and a booklet about the history of the film by Nancy Turner. The collection can be accessed in theDigital Media Repository, at http://libx.bsu.edu/, under the “The Man Haters Film Collection.”

For more information, contact Maren L.Read, Assistant Archivist for Manuscript Collections, Ball State University Libraries, MLRead@bsu.edu, (765) 285-5078.

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