Quietly watching historic film of real people doing real things can stir something powerful in us about our collective past. It's like being in a time machine with a big picture window. The images-in-action trigger real and imagined memories – eerily reminding us of where we came from, what those before us looked like and acted like and appeared to care about and about how we are all, in the end, the very same and yet very different.
So when Eric Ferreri at Duke University sent me an idea for the NPR History Dept. that involved archival film, I sat up straight in my chair.