The Home Movie Archives Database is a project of the Center for Home Movies, with support from the National Film Preservation Board, the Library of Congress and the Council on Library and Information Resources. HMAD is a directory of home movies and amateur films held in archival collections in the United States. The goal is to create as comprehensive a directory as possible of home movie holdings in American archives, libraries and museums.

The rationale behind the project is that researchers and filmmakers are frequently looking for home movies, but don’t know where to look, since these films are often not found in obvious places, and until now there has not been a union catalog of moving images, much less one with a specific focus on home movies.


An initial survey of archives was posted to archival listservs, asking archivists to submit information about their collections. Searches were next done in online databases, including the Center for Home Movies’ related project the Home Movie Registry, as well as the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ Deep Focus Directory to Moving Image Resources, OCLC’s ArchiveGrid and WorldCat databases, and the National Film Preservation Foundation’s list of awarded grants.

The focus of the database is on home movies in the traditional sense (“a film made at home or without professional equipment or expertise, especially a movie featuring one’s own activities”), rather than finished, titled films made by amateur filmmakers. In this iteration of the database, only publicly accessible archives are included, not collections held in private collections or with the filmmakers or their families.

In addition to the information supplied by archivists, researchers searched the archives’ online public access catalogs to extract basic information about the films and collections. When possible, the database includes links to records for individual films or collections, but archives have cataloged their holdings in a variety of ways, so in many cases the information had to be gleaned from different sources. Many of the films, especially when the originals are 8mm or Super 8 film, are not easily accessible for researchers. Most of the films have not been digitized, and not all have been processed, so we encourage users to contact the archives, but be aware of the difficulties that archivists have in making these collections accessible.

The database will continue to evolve and new archives and collections will be added, but it will not always reflect new additions to the archives’ holdings, so we encourage users to perform their own searches in the archives’ catalogs, and to contact the archivists, who have a much deeper knowledge of their collections.

Banner image courtesy of the University of South Carolina Moving Image Image Research Collections