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TAMIS helps uncover memories from forgotten family films

Bailey Hanson wanted a way to preserve and view her family's old home videos. Knox County's TAMIS stepped in to help.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After a Knoxville woman posted a plea on Facebook asking how she could convert family films she found, a Knox County resource stepped in to help.

The Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, or TAMIS, specializes in preserving history. In their vault inside of the East Tennessee History Center are thousands of reels, clips and footage from the past.

Bailey Hanson got a glimpse into a hidden part of her family's history on Friday. Her dad had a box of 8mm film and no one knew exactly what was on the four reels.

Not wanting family history to disintegrate, Hanson started searching for ways to preserve the precious pieces. She posted to a Facebook community group asking what she should do.

After receiving dozens of comments and suggestions, she got a message from an employee at TAMIS, explaining what they offer. Hanson would get a free, converted digital copy of the films, as long as TAMIS could keep a copy in its archives.

"It's a really unique and interesting business we have here," said audio-video archivist Eric Dawson. "People years from now will be able to see how people in East Tennessee lived and how they looked, what they dressed like, how the city has changed and how people have changed over the years and remain the same.”

Just a week after the film drop-off, Hanson sat in front of the computer screen in the TAMIS office, watching what was on those reels from the 50s and 60s.

Credit: WBIR

Her eyes lit up as she saw her dad and uncle as young boys playing together. The camera was likely held by her grandfather.

On the reels was everything from front-yard football games, first birthdays, beach vacations and even a trip to Washington D.C.

Hanson is excited to fill in leaves on her Ancestry family tree. She got a premium subscription to preserve all the family history she could find. The videos will be added.

"There's just there's just nothing like looking at these videos instead of just a photograph," Hanson nodded.

Seeing those she's lost flash across the screen was a loving sting.

"I got to see my grandmother who passed away in 2012, but she passed away of Alzheimer's, so she wasn't the same person for the last 10 years of her life," Hanson said. "So watching her laughing and smiling and picking up babies, that was really neat."

TAMIS employees are used to watching through family videos, but every set is different. Each film is full of memories that would have otherwise been forgotten if they weren't converted.

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"It can be very emotional, and it is something that that feels very privileged to be a part of," Dawson said. "It just gives you a different glimpse at who your family is, especially if you as an adult are looking at your parents or grandparents when they were children. It's pretty remarkable.”

The family video is added into the archive and the memories go out the door on a flash drive.

Hanson said she was so appreciative of the guys at TAMIS for being so helpful.

If you would like to convert older family film you find, you can email TAMIS at tamis@knoxlib.org or call at (865) 215-8750.

TAMIS does not convert VHS tapes, but you can use the free resource at the Knox County Library called the Memory Lab to convert those tapes yourself.

You can keep up with TAMIS on Facebook and Vimeo.