A while ago some bloggers on classic film gave us a glimpse into what their own collections looked like, posting photos of their shelves and boxes filled with videos and DVDs. A dentist from Springfield, Massachusetts amassed a pretty extensive film collection himself through the years, but not on DVD or video tape…on reels of film.
Howard E. “Doc” Burr collected around 2,500 films, including features, shorts, cartoons, newsreels, as well as posters and lobby cards and assorted move ephemera. Dr. Burr died last year at the age of 89, and his collection has been donated by his children to The Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, Mass.
Have a look here for the Springfield Republican article of May 3rd by Pat Cahill which describes Dr. Burr’s treasure trove and the grateful archivists who will give his thousands of reels of film a prestigious new home, thereby making his collection accessible to the public. According to the article, there are at least 300 films among Dr. Burr’s collection that even the enormous UCLA film archives in Los Angels does not have.
Here’s another link to The Harvard Film Archive with a photo of Dr. Burr. We have to marvel at how much effort went into collecting films in an age before video or DVD, before Amazon and eBay and other Internet sites, when every sale or barter had to be done in person or through the mail. Perhaps one of the best things about hobbies is they require patience, and give the delight of anticipation. Dr. Burr must have enjoyed a fair degree of both.