The home movie world lost another one of its patriarchs and titans when Alan Kattelle passed away peacefully this morning after a brief illness. He will truly be missed.
After his long career as an engineer, Alan began to develop a collection of home movie cameras and equipment. Eventually that collection grew to be what was almost certainly the largest and most comprehensive collection of its type in the world. Countless people began making pilgrimages to Alan’s historic house (with its walls adorned with murals by the artist Claggett Wilson) on Lake Boon in Hudson, Massachusetts to view and handle Alan’s collection, which he kept elegantly displayed in his loft.
Through his collecting activities he became a leader of both the Photographic Historical Society of New England, the Movie Machine Society. He was also embraced by the film archives community, and hosted a field trip to his home as part of the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ conference in 2002. This led to an Oral History Project conducted in 2003 by Andrea McCarty and Chad Hunter on behalf of AMIA’s Small Gauge & Amateur Film Committee. In 2005, he was awarded AMIA’s Silver Light Award, which recognizes “outstanding career achievement in moving image archiving.”
Perhaps Alan’s longest lasting achievement was the publication of his book Home Movies: A History of the American Industry, 1897-1979, the definitive history of amateur film technology, and a book that is never more than a few arms’ lengths away for anyone interested in the study of home movies.
After Alan donated his collection of equipment to Northeast Historic Film, he began to focus his attention on co-writing the history of his beloved Lake Boon [Amazon] [Google Books] as well as his own family’s history.
To those who were lucky enough to know him, Alan’s impressive accomplishments were soon overwhelmed by his impish smile, his generousness in hosting guests at his summer home on Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine and his home in Hudson, where he would show off his latest sculpture and invite you to join him for his nightly cocktail.
Correction: The original post gave his birth year as 1918.