University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
Louis C. Harris
Home Movie Collection

HARRIS HOME MOVIE COLLECTION

16mm films from 1942-1960

Filmmaker Louis C. Harris, Sr. (1912-1978) was a reporter for and later Managing Editor of the Augusta, Georgia, Chronicle and Executive Editor of the Augusta Herald (when the papers later merged), from 1932 until his death. He served overseas in World War II as a member of the Public Information branch of the Army Air Corps, including serving under General Mark Clark, Commander of U.S. Forces, in Austria just after the war. Mr. Harris was a respected member of journalism and community organizations such as the Georgia Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, the Augusta Kiwanis, Red Cross, and Chamber of Commerce.

Louis C. "Hap" Harris, Jr. donated to UGA his father's entire home movie collection (1942-1960) of 34 reels of silent black-and-white and color camera-original 8mm and 16mm home movie footage shot between 1942 and 1960 in Italy; Algiers; Augusta, Georgia; Florida; South Carolina; and Yucca Flat, Nevada; and 3 commercial 16mm films. The family's papers and Mr. Harris's home audio disc recordings are also at UGA.

The National Film Preservation Foundation generously funded full film preservation of several reels of Mr. Harris's home movies. Three reels of Kodachrome document a July, 8 1953 soap box derby sponsored by the Augusta Chronicle. But three months before this innocent American pastime, Mr. Harris was invited by the government, as a member of the press, to witness a 16-kiloton atomic blast at Yucca Flat, Nevada, on March 17, 1953. He made a short Kodachrome 16mm film of his trip west which includes scenes at the Phoenix, Arizona airport; day and evening shots of the Las Vegas Strip including the famous "Vegas Vic" waving cowboy neon sign erected in 1951 (the Pioneer Club casino which it advertised closed in 1995); at Indian Springs AFB where atomic bomb drop planes were being "decontaminated" with water and brooms after blast flyovers; at the test location with other journalists being briefed; the atomic blast itself; and colleagues present just after the test. His newspaper accounts of the events that week (available on microfilm in the UGA Main Library) describe the safety of the test and the need for Americans to prepare for potential nuclear war.

Mr. Harris succumbed to cancer in 1978 and part of his archives consists of family letters seeking information on government responsibility toward atomic test participants who developed cancer.

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Harris Home Movies