Similar Yet Different, Old Footage is Portal to Past

The film was shot at the Edgartown bathing beach on Chappaquiddick back in the summer of 1927. And it turns out that people swam, splashed, sunbathed, smiled at one another and flirted with the camera exactly the same way they do now, nearly 90 years later.

Historic Film Shows Heath Hens Alive and Dancing on Vineyard

The last heath hen disappeared from Martha's Vineyard in 1932 and the species declared extinct in 1933.

About the Historic Movies of Martha's Vineyard Project

This short public service announcement describes the Vineyard Gazette's Historic Movies of Martha's Vineyard Project. If you have home movies you think would be appropriate for this project, please email us at

Great Monarch Migration Still Flies High on Film

The Gazette presents a local film clip on monarch butterflies as ecologists around the country raise a cry over the fate of the monarchs, whose numbers have fallen off perilously in the last few years.

Although Short-Lived, Postwar Vessel Bridged Gap Between Eras

They doubted her before she arrived, scorned her while she served and forgot about her after she left.

But the ancient Hudson River ferry Hackensack — which adopted the name Islander and sailed bravely if not always reliably between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven for three years right after World War II — turns out to have been one of the most consequential vessels ever to steam between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland.

Film Soars to the Vineyard, Circa 1957

The film comes from 1957, so the colors look elemental and crayon bright. The music is jouncy and insistent, like something you’d hear in an old-time Friendly’s Restaurant. The men wear neckties and smoke, pretty much no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

1946 Fishing Derby Comes Alive Again In Newly Discovered Film Archive

Put plainly, most of the movie footage is not terribly good. Some of it is out of focus or overexposed. Some of it lingers too long on fish lying dead on the rocks. Some of it wasn’t even shot on the Vineyard, and it takes a judicious eye to determine which scenes show the Island and which show Nauset, Cotuit or the jetties at the northern end of the Cape Cod Canal.

Trapped in Time, Fishing Film Highlights Lost Art

If you had walked the shoreline of the Vineyard between roughly 1870 and the middle 1930s — especially the muscular, rocky north shore from Lambert’s Cove west to Gay Head — you would have seen something there’s absolutely no sign of today: row after row of wooden stakes stretching up to 100 feet outward from the beach into Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds.

Archival Film of Swordfish Hunt Launches Gazette Initiative

The film is just 23 minutes, 14 seconds long. It’s silent, black and white and there are moments when the images jump around due to the choppiness of the sea — or of the editing. There’s a shot of a man with a long harpoon and dart leaning against the rail of a bowsprit. There’s a wooden keg bouncing over the wave tops toward the horizon.