More Ancestors on Board

Ancestors on Board

As reported in an earlier post, an important new research resource was published this year by the UK’s National Archives and Ancestors on Board will eventually become a record of everyone who sailed out of a British port (including all Ireland to 1921) on long-distance voyages from 1890 to 1960, taken from the records of the Board of Trade. The first tranche of data released covered 1890-1899; now the site covers 1900-1919 as well. So now there are even more opportunities for historians of silent cinema to track the to and from of actors, filmmakers and executives going to America from Britain. You can find young hopefuls Charles Chaplin and Stanley Jefferson (soon to be Stan Laurel) sailing out in 1912 with the Fred Karno troupe, future Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn) hoping to find his fortune in 1899, and D.W. Griffith and Billy Bitzer returning to America in 1917 after filming scenes for Hearts of the World in Britain. The name search is free, but there is a charge for viewing images of the ships’ lists or transcripts.

Nineteen (Obscure) Frames that Changed the World

In October 1888 the French-born inventor Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince recorded what is thought to be the first ‘film’ in the history of cinema. His subject was Leeds Bridge – the ebb and flow of humanity – people going about their daily business unaware that their motions were being inscribed into history. The surviving frames of this footage are owned by the National Media Museum in Bradford where Curator of Cinematography, Michael Harvey, has been working with New York video artist Ken Jacobs for 18 months to provide footage for the unique exhibition Nineteen (Obscure) Frames That Changed the World. As the blurb puts it, “Ken Jacobs probes the magnitude and infinity of the existing frames, using a unique 3D projection system (with 3d glasses) to reveal hidden beauty and unlock great waves of motion. Ken Jacobs’ films, performances and installations inspire a sense of awe and mystery that audiences must have felt when confronted by moving images at the very start of cinema.” The exhibition opens on Thursday 24 May and runs from 25 May–1 June, 11.30am–6.30pm with free entry. Further information here.