While I was hiding in the dark with my newly conditioned air, I played with my Helen Gibson research project and discovered something truly interesting…I had made an assumption 2 years ago that turns out to be false and changed my whole outlook on the archive. Wait..let me vague that up…the majority of the items in my research materials are stills from Helen’s silent serials..nearly all have descriptions in her own hand on the back…some of them have writing from other persons on the back, some crossing out Helen’s description and substituting other titles. As I went along happily putting these in chronological order and sorting them with like items. I took these corrections as read.
Figuring she did so many films she must have just been misremembering. As with this item someone with a long inked description for a Capital film from 1920, and someone helpful reedited the label to read Kalem Company 1916. The differences are apples and oranges..the Kalem Company did 1 reel rail road adventures staring Helen, where the Capital films did a few dozen 2 reel westerns with her. This is one of the more egregious examples of relabeling, to be fair working titles were ephemeral and what was filmed under one title may have been released under another. So the title in the description doesn’t match anything in Helens Capital filmography, but that’s neither here nor there. Someone wrote something incorrect on the back of the still. And in a few cases I took them at their word that they knew what they were doing.
Now i get to flip back through the collection and correct the corrections, taking ONLY things in Helen’s hand as gospel. I wonder how many other people are taking annotations attached to books and ephemera as truth when whomever did the scribbling may have just been wanting to sell the item faster, quicker or pricier.