JCHA January meeting to feature film & photo expert Sam Hall

The Jackson County Historical Association will meet at Down on Main Street in Stevenson on Sunday, January 28 at 2:00 pm to hear film and photo expert Sam Hall. The venue was formerly known as the Isabella Theater and is located at 114 West Main Street in downtown Stevenson.

Sam Hall has given our county so much joy over the last few years by rescuing 1940s 16mm movies, some shot by Sam’s grandfather, Dr. Sam Hall, and others commissioned by Robert Word. Sam crafted a machine to digitize high-resolution images of old movies frame by frame, which he then turns into high quality movies. He has movies of the opening of Lake Guntersville, of the square in the snow, of 1940s Scottsboro from the air, and of the various airshows at Sebring Field and TVA Field. After Bob Word shared his father’s Arab film in March, Sam salvaged as much of this film as possible and set up a website where the film clips could be viewed. He labored for months to resurrect stills of 1941 Bridgeport from film that stunk like vinegar and fell out of the film box in chunks.

We like to think of Sam as a native son, but he is actually from Chattanooga. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a Bachelor’s degree in communications. His enthusiasm for regional history has evolved into an invaluable historical resource, ChattanoogaHistory.com. He was recently presented the DAR Excellence in Historic Preservation Medal in recognition of the myriads of ways he has preserved Chattanooga history. In May 2021 Hall and his website were recognized with the Certificate of Merit Award for digital preservation by the Tennessee Historical Commission. 

His website was launched in January of 2014 and is maintained to present unique and historical images in the highest resolution available. His goal is to be a trusted resource for individuals and institutions wanting to share historical photographs, and to make them available online to the public. His presentation will include ways to share historical documents and photographs online and to collect and preserve your family photographs in the age when few images are printed.

Sam’s primary website is Chattanooga History,  http://chattanoogahistory.com/. His Scottsboro films and stills can be seen at http://chattanoogahistory.com/scottsboro.  The Bridgeport stills are at http://chattanoogahistory.com/bridgeport. The Arab movie is at http://chattanoogahistory.com/arab_alabama_movie. 

In his presentation, Sam will introduce you to his 10-year-old website (chattanoogahistory.com). He will talk about what he does and why he does it and invite you to observe the remarkable quality he is able to coax from 100+ year old photos. He’ll compare this digitization technique to later formats, including motion picture film. Finally, he will show you the digitizing process he uses, emphasizing how affordable and available the technology has only recently become. Bring all our photo scanning and archiving questions for the Q&A that follows. 

In keeping with the movie theme, popcorn and cold drinks will be our refreshments. Both members and non-members are invited to attend. 

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