Meet Snowden Becker!

Snowden Becker, Co-Founders of the Center for Home Movies

by Adam Schutzman

Snowden Becker has been actively involved in outreach and advocacy for most of her professional career. She has been working in the cultural heritage field for over 20 years and is perhaps most well known for her work with moving image archives. She first became interested in working with collections when she was an undergrad in art school, after taking a part-time job at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She worked in a number of well-known museums after graduating with a BFA in printmaking, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Japanese American National Museum and the Getty Museum. It was during her time at the Japanese American National Museum that she first realized her passion for working with moving image archives and in particular, small gauge and amateur films. Soon after starting her work there, she began pursuing her Masters in Library and Information Science at UCLA.

During her time at UCLA, she joined the Association of Moving Image Archivists and became the founding Chair of their Small Gauge and Amateur Film Interest Group after graduating with an MLIS in 2001. It was through this interest group that the idea for Home Movie Day came about, which she co-founded in 2002 with four colleagues. Since its founding, Home Movie Day has become a wildly successful, international annual event, where the general public is encouraged to bring in their family films to be inspected for condition and projected by trained film archivists for an audience to watch and enjoy together. The event serves as a highly effective outreach tool, where the public is both entertained and educated about the value of amateur films and how best to care for them from a film preservation perspective. This year, Home Movie Day celebrates its 15th anniversary all over the world. Since 2002, the event has grown from being presented in twenty-four venues in four countries, to being presented in nearly one hundred cities on every continent except for Antarctica.

Home Movie Day 2017 Trailer

In 2004, Snowden co-founded the Center for Home Movies, which is a non-profit organization that administers Home Movie Day and other related amateur film preservation advocacy and outreach projects, such as the Home Movie Registry. Through their various online and in-person programs, the center strives to fulfil their mission to “transform the way people think about home movies by providing the means to discover, celebrate, and preserve them as cultural heritage”. In addition to being a co-founder, Snowden served as a director of the board for the organization until 2010. Even though she no longer serves on the board, Snowden continues to remain closely involved in supporting the center’s work thorough helping to host Home Movie Day and other related projects locally. Her dedicated work in this field over the years has helped shift both the professional and popular perception of home movies from disposable, kitschy relics of a bygone era to important historic records worthy of archival preservation and scholarly research. Recently, the Center for Home Movies became the 2017 recipient of the Society of American Archivists’ Philip M. Hamer and Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award for their continued work in archival advocacy.

Currently, Snowden is completing her PhD in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2012, she has also served as a teacher and program manager of the Moving Image Archive Studies Program at UCLA. In this role, she helps to educate students about moving image archives and outreach while advocating for smaller, community-based collections.

In a recent interview with her, I asked Snowden the question ‘what makes for a good outreach project’? She responded by saying that “the stuff that works best, is the stuff that is really driven by a demonstrated, well-understood need and that is solving a specific problem”. She goes onto elaborate that, “If you are scoping out a project and you can’t answer ‘what is the problem we are trying to solve here?’ and ‘how do we know that this problem exists?’, then you’re not going to be successful”. These insights resonated strongly for me and seem like important food for thought when one is involved in conceiving of a community-based archival outreach project.

Overall, Snowden’s work in the last 20 years is diverse yet passionately focused. Each one of the projects that she has been involved in shows a strong commitment to archival outreach and advocacy on multiple levels. As a graduate student and early professional in the LIS field with a passion for both outreach and archival moving images, I find her work deeply inspiring. Thanks to the work of people like Snowden, events like Home Movie Day will be helping raise awareness about the historical importance of amateur films and moving image archives for many years to come.

To find out more the Center for Home Movies, visit:

To find a Home Movie Day event near you, visit:

To learn more about Snowden Becker’s academic and professional work, visit:

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