A Step Back in Time: Glimpses of the Adirondacks, 1949 – 1954

Fessy Washburn, a chemist and naturalist, took many photographs and home movies of her adventures around the world. Her family donated to the Forty-Sixers movies she shot in the Adirondacks between 1949 and 1954.

These movies offer fascinating glimpses into the Adirondack Park just before devastating storms closed many trails. Fessy photographed camping and canoe trips, and visits to Whiteface Mountain, Buttermilk Falls, and other popular spots.

The movies are also early examples of Ansco Color, an 8mm film stock marketed as a rival to the Kodak brand.

Because of their historical significance, these irreplaceable films were selected for safeguarding by The National Film Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. Through the work of Colorlab in Rockville, Maryland, Fessy’s 8mm films were cleaned, scanned, and then migrated to 16mm film stock and digital files.

The 16mm prints of Fessy’s films can be viewed at the New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections. And you can view the films online on our YouTube channel.

Thanks are due to Fessy’s family for making these available, to the NFPF for its financial support, and to Colorlab for doing the technical work necessary to save these movies for a new generation of viewers.

We hope you enjoy Fessy’s movies. If you have home movies of the Adirondacks, or are aware of other collections that need preservation, please let us know about them.

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