Skip to main content

Gift a Film

Home movies reveal visual details of everyday life, small moments filmed by families and friends, records of work and play, traditions and spontaneous acts. With its unique focus on Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods, the South Side Home Movie Project preserves some of the only moving image documentation of 20th century life on the South Side, and we rely on neighbors and local families to share their home movies with us.

We collect 8mm, Super-8 and 16mm reel-to-reel film. Our collections include films from 1929 - 1982.

Everyone who considers themself a South Sider is welcome to contribute. We know that sometimes the films document life in other cities and countries, but as long as you are or were a South Sider we want your home movies!

Contact SSHMP’s archivist! Call 773-795-3329 or email We’ll ask you a few questions about the kind of films you have, and describe the process for adding your films to the SSHMP archive. We provide free inspection, repair and digitization of your films and give you a digital copy. We can also provide information about contributing the originals to our archive, to be stored in a climate-controlled vault.

Contact our archivist! Every home movie donation is unique, and we give each collection our personal care and attention. We’ll share details about the preservation of your films, information about what will happen to the materials, and a timeline for when you can expect to see the digital versions. For details, visit our Gift a Film page.

First, we will inspect and store the original film reels in a state-of-the art, humidity- and climate-controlled film vault located in the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. Next, we will carefully create a digital copy of each film with our high-resolution in-house scanning equipment. Once your films are digitized, we’ll provide digital copies that you can share with family and friends, and add your collection to our Digital Archive. Each film will be carefully annotated and cataloged so that it can be searched by year, subject, location and other details.

How to GIft a Film

If you are or were a South Sider, we want to preserve your home movies!

Step #1

Gather your films and ensure that they are 8mm, Super-8 or 16mm reels - not video or slides.

Step #2

Contact SSHMP’s archivist! Call 773-795-3329 or email He will ask a few questions about your films (i.e. what year they’re from, who shot them, what might be on them, what format they are, what condition they’re in). If the films seem eligible for the SSHMP archive, he will explain the Deed of Gift process and suggest next steps.

Step #3

Once the films have been gifted and are on-location at the University of Chicago film vault, they will be added to the queue for inspection, repairs, preservation and digitization with our high-resolution in-house scanning equipment. This meticulous process may take several months.

Step #4

Once your films are digitized, we’ll provide video copies that you can share. You can select a name for your archival collection, and the films will be added to your collection on our Digital Archive. For the next several months, each film will be carefully annotated and cataloged so that it can be searched by year, subject, location and other details.

Step #5

At this point, our archivist can work with you to schedule a Family Watch Party, a private premiere of your home movie collection just for your family. Old home movies may not have been screened for decades, so gathering with family to watch them for the first time can be a powerful experience.

Step #6

You may also be invited to record an interview and live narration of your home movies, with family members who recall the stories behind the films. Recording an oral history is an important step in documenting historic details and providing valuable context for the archival films.

Welcome to our home movie community

Home movie donors are the heart of the Project. New donors join a community of families who have entrusted us with their historic records, and who actively participate in the life of the archive. We honor and celebrate their stories, ensuring that donors' voices continue to shape our understanding of the histories we hold. Families who share their home movies with SSHMP are invited to participate in a range of activities.

In addition to organizing a Family Watch Party and recording an Oral History, home movie donors are often invited to speak about their family's films to community organizations, students, researchers and others interested in South Side history.

Visit our Home Movie Community page to find out more about opportunities for our donors, neighbors, friends and colleagues to get involved with South Side Home Movie Project activities.

Home Movie Community page

Meet Our Archivist

Justin D. Williams

Photograph of Justin Williams

Justin has a broad background in arts and culture, spanning media technology, program management, documentary production, archiving and community engagement. As SSHMP’s archivist, Justin is honored to work closely with families considering sharing their home movies with us. He will be your main point of contact with SSHMP, answering your questions, describing options, guiding you through the process of gifting your films, and keeping you updated along the way.

PHONE NUMBER: 773-795-3329