Posted: November 16, 2022

Mitch London

Before I get into the meat of this article, I want to tell you a little about what led up to it coming into being. I was recently sworn in as AANR President. One of my tasks was to select people to be committee chairpersons. I was fortunate enough to have several of them agree to stay on from their previous appointment, but there were still a few spots I had to get filled. One position where I still needed someone was the Research and Education chair.
While attending the convention, I ran across Paul LeValley, whose name you may know from the informative articles in The Bulletin over the years in relation to family nudism. I asked him if he would consider being the chairperson. Some questions back and forth about the position and he assented. Whilst we discussed the position he asked if I knew about the American Nudist Research Library (ANRL). I said I was familiar with it but did not really know much about it. He told me about how they collect pieces of nudist history and try to preserve them in a way so they’re not lost to time. These can be magazines, newsletters, videos, and films.
I mentioned to him my collection of old cameras and projectors, and he asked if I happened to have a 16mm projector because they had a couple films that they were not sure what was on them. I almost said, ‘How many do you need and from what year?’. I do not have that many, but I had a couple and I told him I would check when I get home. Since then, Paul agreed to be the chair for the Research and Education Committee, and I found a working projector in my collection. I was leery about shipping an old projector that weighed 25 pounds in the mail, so I decided I would take it down personally.
This past September I went to Cypress Cove Resort, which is the home of the ANRL, and set a time to visit the library. I will say, I got some interesting looks from people on the plane as I was hauling this projector as carry-on luggage. “My laptop broke,” I would say and smile.
The projector survived the trip unscathed, and I arrived at the library and met with Paul who had a small batch of films laid on the table. He hauled out a projector screen while I set up the machine. The first film was of Cypress Cove in 1972 that had been shot for a production of “The Take Off”, however it was not rewound properly, and we watched the film both backwards and upside down. The second film had me worried for two reasons, its age, and its odor. It was done in 1957 so it could be brittle, and it was an acetate-based film. At least it was not nitrate film which is extremely flammable. However, acetate film can degrade, hence the vinegar odor, and eventually be a total loss.
The second film was partly of the 1957 ASA (predecessor to the AANR) convention and partly some scenes of families enjoying a nude beach somewhere. The few minutes of history that played across the screen, and the realization that it could well have been over 50 years since this film was last played, shows the importance of saving this history before it is lost.
Preservation of these films, and the magazines, and the VHS tapes and all the other items kept at the ANRL is vital to protecting our history of nudism. The library has been spending hundreds of hours converting, transferring, and copying all this material to a digital format in case something should happen to the originals. After seeing all the amazing work that has been done and the mountain of work still to be done, I decided to become a member of the ANRL to help them perform their task. You too can help by becoming a member of ANRL. I won’t force you, but I will just put this handy information link here.

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