More than 100 years of East Tennessee's history have been captured on film, very old film, a lot of which no longer exists. But every day there is one man working hard to bring those images and sounds to us.
Underneath the many floors of books, records and artifacts at the East Tennessee History Center you'll find Bradley Reeves.
"Thousands of little rolls of film, hundreds of home movies, there must be thousands of recordings whether they are on disc, old 78s, local music going back to the '20s," said Bradley.
All of it contains decades upon decades of Knoxville's history. "We have a very rich and special, very unique history which is worth capturing and saving," said Bradley.
Bradley has always been intrigued by these sights and sounds. "I had my first movie projector given to me for Christmas when I was 10. I love showing movies. I love the classic movies. I love watching film," he said.
It's this love of film, this passion for the past that took him to a prestigious film school.
"The George Eastman House is the premiere film preservation and photography museum in the U.S. George Eastman of course founded Kodak in the the 1880s. His home is now the location, the base for the school," he said.
It was this education that got him a job at the National Archives. "My job was to sift through endless miles of military footage and educational films. It was just endless all day long, but it was a great learning experience. It was a great foot in the door," said Bradley.
And then came another huge opportunity. "I went to the Library of Congress and worked for a few months, working on their Hollywood-type films and during that period I thought 'well, who is preserving the films and video of my own region?'" he wondered.
This question brought him home. "Knoxville is particularly rich in local TV history, still is," he said.
But it doesn't stop there. The Civil Rights Movement, a visit from Walt Disney, video from the early 1900s. It's almost an adventure every day and he found the perfect person to go on that adventure with. His wife, Loisa Trott. They met at an archivists convention and bonded over old Elvis footage.
"Believe it or not, it was really unpopular with librarians and archivists. They booed it so I took it off, but I noticed a lady over in the corner who was really excited about it," Bradley remembered.
They eventually got married and together founded TAMIS, The Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. They try to preserve everything they can from home videos to significant moments in time.
"A lot of the times we are finding this material in barns and attics, basements," he said. "We do a lot of banging on doors asking, 'Did you keep anything?' and, 'Would you share it with us?'"
It's like a treasure hunt every day. "You have this can of film. You open it up. You inspect it. You make sure it's still in playable condition. You do what you can to repair it. You put it on the machine and there it is Knoxville 1915 or a Gay Street parade in 1932, a celebrity like Grace Moore getting off the train at Southern Depot. History you never knew existed," he said.
Bradley Reeves, a gift to our region. Because of him we will forever know what came before us.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.
Bradley actually helped us here at Channel 10 archive our old footage, a lot of which aired throughout our 50th year during Bill Williams' 'Our Stories' segments.