Postponed - Documenting Our Lives: Film, Memory, and Preservation


The Newberry has been closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19. To enable our community to follow the standards of social distancing mandated by public health officials, we are postponing this program. Please visit www.newberry.org/covid19 for more information and for regular updates regarding Newberry operations.

Why do we take videos of our personal lives? How do they affect individuals, families, and communities? Who “owns” these artifacts of history? Now that everyone with a phone has the power to document their daily lives in living color, how do we determine what is worth recording and watching and what to preserve?

On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder left his office hoping for a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it passed by Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. He ended up taking the most famous “home movie” in American history. The 26 seconds of Abraham Zapruder’s footage depicting the JFK assassination is now iconic, forever embedded in American culture and identity.

In this installment of “Conversations at the Newberry,” Abraham Zapruder’s granddaughter Alexandra Zapruder will be joined by Jacqueline Stewart, University of Chicago Professor and host of the Turner Classic Movies program “Silent Sunday Nights.” Together, they’ll explore the history of home movies, family history and difficult memory, and the emergence of citizen journalism in the United States today.

Alexandra Zapruder’s book, Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film, tells the story of her grandfather’s home movie of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. She began her career as a member of the founding staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Her first book, Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, won the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category.

Jacqueline Stewart is Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago and director of the South Side Home Movie Project. She’s the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity. Stewart’s research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images. Her work also addresses “orphan” media histories, including non-theatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. In addition to directing the South Side Home Movie Project, she is co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion Preservation Project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

“Conversations at the Newberry” is generously sponsored by Sue and Melvin Gray.

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