Karan Sheldon co-founded Northeast Historic Film, collecting, preserving, and sharing northern New England's moving-image heritage. Her goal is to find forgotten films and help them speak for themselves.


Moving Image Preservation and Public Access
  • WhyPersonalFilmHow, project leader. With a planning grant from The Golden Rule Foundation in 2011, toward the first exhibition in fine arts museums of amateur film selected and interpreted based on aesthetic qualities.
  • Boston TV News Digital Library, 1960-2000, collaboration to create an online digital library drawing on local TV news holdings of WGBH Media Library and Archives, Northeast Historic Film, Cambridge Community Television, and the Boston Public Library. A public resource offering 40 years of urban moving image materials. IMLS and CLIR funding awarded to WGBH Educational Foundation. 2011-2012.
  • Finding and Using Moving Images in Context, project director, providing access to an online collection of film from China, 1928-1936, with interpretive scholarship, with partners Primary Source and Asia Source, Maine Memory Network, MIC (Moving Image Collections) and Windows on Maine. Funded by National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Start-Up program, 2007-2008. Its 52-week process blog.
  • The Making of an American: A 1920s Film in the ESOL Classroom workshop for Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education conference, with ESOL educator Nancy Coffey, on using archival film on immigrant education. Project director, New England Foundation for the Arts Expeditions grant, The Making of an American from the NHF Alan Kattelle Collection, touring program with live music; curatorial notes by Jan-Christopher Horak, 2002.
  • Director, Summer Film Symposium, an annual multi-day gathering devoted to film preservation, interpretation and access attended by North American film scholars and archivists. Organized symposia and chaired program committee. Themes: Amateur Fiction Films (2005), Moving Image as Biography (2004), Toward Access, Interpretation and Understanding (2003), Close Readings: Seeing Amateur Film in Important Ways (2002), Home Movies and Privacy (2001), Issues in Moving Image Preservation (2000).
  • Founder and organizer, Northeast Silent Film Festival, 2000-2004. Festival of 35 mm. film from North American and British archival collections with live musical accompaniment by Philip Carli, Paul Sullivan, and Clayton W. Smith and the Bon Ton Salon Orchestra. Themes: Transformation/Silent Sex Roles (2004), Star Qualities: It's Still It (2003), North Woods Dramas (2002), Rural Places/Lost Worlds (2001), Maritime Film (2000).
  • Project director, Going to the Movies: A Century of Motion Picture Audiences in Northern New England, wrote and produced a 24-panel interpretive exhibition with installations in Portland, Maine; Burlington, Vermont; and Wellesley College. Directed multi-site screening and lecture series funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Produced Charlie Chaplin's The Circus with Gillian Anderson conducting the Cinema Century Orchestra at the Maine Mall, South Portland, first known presentation of silent film with live music in a North American shopping mall--and to an audience of 1,100 at the Flynn Theatre, Burlington, Vermont. Evangeline, UCLA restoration premiere at Nickelodeon in Portland, Maine, with Elliott Schwartz ensemble. Created a typology of motion picture theaters with Chester Liebs and Toni Wolff, on view as a 40-foot mural installation at the Alamo Theatre, Bucksport, Maine.
  • Co-producer, script and publications editor, and director of public activities, From Stump to Ship: A 1930 Logging Film, film reconstruction and 22-site outreach program for the University of Maine. From Stump to Ship was added to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress in 2002.
  • Co-producer, Norumbega: Maine in the Age of Exploration and Settlement, a multi-image slide show; wrote script for production, planned and carried out 60-event scholar-led reading and discussion series for the Maine Humanities Council, 1988.
  • Curator, An Amateur Exemplar, selection of films of New England as one of the leading partners in the National Film Preservation Foundation's Treasures of American Film Archives. Films screened in many venues and included in the DVD collection Treasures from American Film Archives. Millennium project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, 2000.
  • Curator, museum screenings including an annual program at the Portland Museum of Art: Invisible with Penobscot Nation tribal historian James Francis (2005). Maine Summer Camps (2004) with musical accompaniment by Paul Sullivan. You Work, We'll Watch with Goodall Textile Mills and Portland firefighting films and speakers (2003). Maine TV: Then Again with Pat Callaghan (2002). Exceptional Amateur Films (2001) with accompaniment by Martin Marks. Responsible for film selection, speakers (ten speakers for Maine Summer Camps), musicians, printed materials, institutional coordination, and publicity.
  • Organizer, Library of Congress Pickford Theatre, Washington, DC, screening and reception with speakers including Maine congressional representative, 2003. Also National Film Registry Tour series at Alamo Theatre, Bucksport, Maine, in 2000 with films from Library of Congress and Northeast Historic Film and invited speakers.
  • Integrated preservation and presentation of The Movie Queen, Lubec, with oral history recording/transcription, public exhibition of new 16mm film, community events with live music, funded by Maine Community Foundation Expansion Arts fund, 1989.

Advocacy and Leadership

  • Open Source Moving Image Access Meeting, moderated and helped organize February 2009 meet at WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, to share information on components necessary to build an open source digital asset management system for moving image archives. Presentations on PBCore, Fedora and CollectiveAccess, with 50 participants. Follow up to AMIA Cataloging and Documentation meeting in Savannah in November 2008.
  • Association of Moving Image Archivists Future Directions Committee chair, organized 2008 conference plenary and followup session for annual conference in Savannah, Georgia: "New Horizons, In the Face of Convergence," and "Enacting the Future."
  • Planned and led Roundtables, annual digital education gathering supporting the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Topics: iMovie and Archival Footage (2002), Web Based Social Studies Resources (2003), Content and Meaning in Maine Studies and Native Studies (2004). search on "Roundtable."
  • Initiated Digital Maine Learning Group, consortium of cultural and educational leaders providing content for teaching and learning, 2001-2007.
  •  Chaired Small Gauge Film Preservation Task Force, Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), 1999-2001.
  • Chaired and organized Small Gauge Symposium, Portland, Oregon, November 5-8, 2001 (70 presenters) and Library of Congress Roundtable at Sony Pictures Entertainment, June 2000.
  • Co-chair, Regional Audiovisual Archives Interest Group, Association of Moving Image Archivists, 1999-2000.
  • Co-chair, Committee on the U.S. National Moving Image Preservation Plans for the Library of Congress on behalf of AMIA, 1997-1999.
  • National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress, representing AMIA, with Eddie Richmond, UCLA. 1997-2000.
  • Organized Centennial of Cinema plenary speaker series for AMIA annual conference, Toronto, 1995.
  • Organized and co-chaired first AMIA plenary on home movies and amateur film, 1991.

  • Writing and Editing

    Author of articles, Web content, newsletter pieces. Managing editor of Moving Image Review, newsletter of Northeast Historic Film, 1988-2009.
    • Review of Film Preservation: Competing Definitions of Value, Use, and Practice by Karen Gracy in The American Archivist, journal of the Society of American Archivists, Spring/Summer 2010.
    • "Brilliant!," concerning William S. O'Farrell, for The Moving Image, 9.1 (Spring 2009), the journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, University of Minnesota Press.

    • "Meeting the Movie Queen: An Itinerant Film Anchored in Place" for The Moving Image, 10.1 (Spring 2010), the journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, University of Minnesota Press.
    • "Regional Moving Image Archives in The United States," Cinema Journal, In Focus: The 21st Century Archives, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2007.

    Workshops, Panels, and Academic Presentations

    "Considering the Aesthetics of Amateur Film," Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow. Video excerpt here,  June 2012. 

    New England Archive Showcase, Society for Cinema and Media Studies at the Paramount Theatre, Boston, program presenter with Brian Graney and Gemma Scott. March 2012.

    "Film Restoration and Access in the Digital Age," panel member at Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation's 8th annual Coolidge Award honoring film preservation. May 2011.

    "Describing Local Films: New Thoughts on Itinerant-produced Works," session organizer and chair, Association of Moving Image Archivists/IASA annual conference. Martin Johnson, a doctoral candidate in Cinema Studies at New York University, and Katrina Dixon, Northeast Historic Film media cataloger, show itinerant film examples and discuss access strategies. Philadelphia, PA, November 2010.
    "Describing Amateur Films of Work Life, Collection- and Item-Level Discoveries, 50 Collections/1,200 Reels from 1916-1960," presentation with Katrina Dixon at Saving Private Reels, an International Conference on the Presentation, Appropriation and Re-contextualization of the Amateur Moving Image at University College Cork, Ireland, September 2010.

    "Roundtable: Sound and Video Archives," panelist for Digital Archives: Navigating the Legal Shoals,
    Kernochan Center Symposium, Columbia Law School, April 2010."1930s Amateur Film of Shanghai for Teaching and Research," presentation for The Film Archive and Cinematic Heritage, SW/Texas Popular Culture Association conference, Albuquerque, NM, February 2009.

    "Maine and China," screening and discussion of 1930s archival film shot by Americans in China for teachers seminar organized by Primary Source: Orono, Maine, in 2004, and Portland, Maine, in 2005.
    February 2009 as part of China: Enduring Legacies and Radical Transformations seminar in Watertown, Mass.

    "Outreach, Preservation and Access Initiatives Within and Between Regions," Association of Moving Image Archivists annual conference, Rochester, NY. Panel Chair and organizer. Participants from archives in Seattle, Texas and the UK. September 2007.

    "Regional and Nontraditional Moving Image Archiving" for L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, George Eastman House Motion Picture Department, Rochester, NY. Featured lecturer in moving image archiving course, annually since 1996.
    Most recently, December 2010.

    "Moving Image Archiving from the Ground Up" for Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences continuing education. Full-day workshop with Karen Gracy. Spring 2004.

    "The Fall of Jerusalem, Mystery Film" screening at Orphans 04, On Location: Place and Region in Forgotten Films, University of South Carolina. Spring 2004.

    Also for Yale University Film Studies Program, Charles Musser's Historical Methods in Film Study. Fall 2004.

    "Lives in Moving Images and Sound: Another Kind of Archives," colloquium, Department of Communication, University of South Florida, Tampa. Winter 2003.

    Other presentations for annual conferences of Maine Association for Middle Level Education, Sugarloaf, Maine; University Film and Video Association at Emerson College, Boston; Consortium of College and University Media Centers, Burlington, Vermont.
    Film and Video Production Wrote and co-produced the documentary Woodsmen and River Drivers: Another day, another era, winner of a gold medal at the International Film & TV Festival of NY, and The New England Historical Association Media Award, 1989.

    Wrote and produced an instructional videotape on the oral history process, An Oral Historian's Work with Dr. Edward Ives with the University of Maine.

    WGBH TV, Boston, Mass. Vietnam: A Television History, associate producer, Series awards include Emmy, Eric Barnouw Award, 1982-83. The Caption Center, caption writer. Researched, wrote, and produced subtitles for hearing-impaired children, 1978-1980.

    Boards and Committees

    • Board member, Association of Moving Image Archivists, 2007-2009.
    • Steering committee member, Moving Image Collections (MIC) a project of the Library of Congress and Association of Moving Image Archivists, 2004-2008.
    • Member, Maine Film Commission, 1998-2004.
    • Advisory board member, Maine Folklife Center, University of Maine, Orono, 1995-2003.
    • Task force member, Public Access and Educational Use Task Force, Library of Congress study, Redefining Film Preservation: A National Plan, 1993-4.
    • Founding treasurer, Association of Moving Image Archivists, 1991.
    • Trustee, Milton Academy, Milton, Mass., 2003-2011
    • Trustee, Northeast Historic Film, 1986-present

    University Employment

    • Special assistant to the president, University of Maine, Orono, 1984.
    • Office of the provost, MIT, Cambridge, Mass., 1978.


    Brown University, Providence, RI.
    Honors in Comparative Literature.