Backstage Pass to North Dakota History

This blog takes you behind the scenes of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Get a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of the staff, volunteers, and partners who make it all possible. Discover what it takes to preserve North Dakota's natural and cultural history.

Last year I blogged about home movies that people have donated to the State Archives ( Not everyone feels comfortable about donating their home movies, nor do the Archives necessarily want them, as they may not fit our collection policy. Nonetheless, this footage should be preserved for future generations of family members to enjoy.

We collect, digitize and preserve home movies if we feel they have historic value. Outreach is also a part of our mission. When possible, we try to help people and other organizations that are working to preserve history. When Kirsten Larvick called last year and told me about her idea of starting a fund to help people preserve their home movies, it certainly captured my attention. Kirsten is a documentary storyteller and film preservation advocate. She operates a studio in New York and has worked for a number of award-winning production companies and filmmakers, including InCite Pictures and the Academy Award® winning producer, David Goodman. So why, I wonder, does she want to help North Dakotans preserve their home movies? Fortunately there is a connection, as her grandfather grew up and lived a good part of his life in the Valley City area An avid film enthusiast, Kirsten’s grandfather did a great deal of filming family and community scenes while in North Dakota. In his honor, Kirsten decided to start a fund to help people preserve their home movies. I think it is a great cause, and that’s why we are helping to promote this opportunity to the public.

Founded in 2015 after Al Larvick, a man devoted to documenting everyday life activities, the Al Larvick Conservation Fund (ALCF) has begun to offer grants to those who wish to have home movies properly preserved and digitized. The ALCF mission is to preserve historical and cultural heritage through conversation, education, and public accessibility of home and amateur audiovisual materials created prior to 1990. The State Historical Society is happy to partner with the Larvick fund to help promote preservation and to get the word out about the grant opportunities. I am a board member of the non-profit fund and will be part of a program in September to help promote home movies and their preservation.

The first part of the 90-minute program will showcase some of the home movies from our collections as well as those from the Al Larvick collection. We will show different types of home movies ranging from family celebrations to parades and athletic events. Being able to see glimpses of how and what previous generations did is interesting to say the least. From what they wore, to their home décor, to seeing their activities and how they may or may not be similar to the things we do today is entertaining and informative. The movie screenings, discussion, and preservation workshops will be held September 2, 3, and 4 in Bismarck, Valley City, and West Fargo. For more information about Al Larvick, the events, and the grant, please visit the website at To register for one of the free events, go to -

This is a wonderful thing the Larvick family is doing, and I hope to see you all at one of the events!

Exploring Home Movies: The Window into Personal Legacy & Cultural Heritage poster