MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- The spirit of Robert Frost is never far from mind during the summer months in Ripton, Vermont. Now the College's Special Collections and Archives offers a glimpse of how Frost spent his summers, through recently digitized 16mm film footage. The two-minute full-color, soundless clip (circa 1948) shows Frost hiking his idyllic property, harvesting vegetables and enjoying his dog and horses.
"Fans of Robert Frost will get a thrill out of seeing moving images of him that have never been seen," said Joseph Watson, preservation manager at the Davis Family Library. "Moving images inform our view of the past in ways still images and the written word can’t. When we see moving images we get more of a sense of what it was like to be there."
The Homer Noble Farm shown in the clip was Frost's summer home from 1939-1962, and is just down the road from Middlebury's Bread Loaf Mountain campus, where Frost made regular appearances at both the Bread Loaf School of English and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.
The Frost footage is part of an effort by Special Collections and Archives to digitize numerous short films from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. There are about 100 16mm films in total, most of which will be digitized and released in the coming years as time and budgets allow, says Watson. Some remarkable scenes yet to be published include the "Flying Club" taking off from the Middlebury Airport and shooting aerial footage of Addison County and the campus, and students on snow skis being pulled behind an airplane on what appears to be a frozen Lake Champlain.
Special Collections and Archives has created a blog where the newly digitized films and other noteworthy digital content are posted.