Historic Movies of Martha's Vineyard

Gay Head Light Then and Now

Almost as soon as it was possible to set up a movie camera on Martha’s Vineyard, filmmakers were heading out to Aquinnah to shoot the swirling, mottled escarpment of clays and tills and Irish-green heathland that make up the Gay Head Cliffs.

In the Eye of the Hurricane: Edna on the Heels of Carol

On August 31, 1954, Hurricane Carol ravaged the harbors and shorelines of the Vineyard. Eleven days later and 60 years ago today, Edna struck the Island even more directly than Carol. Rare film footage tracks the eye of Edna passing over Chappaquiddick, and Islanders recall that day.
Hurricane Carol hits Menemsha

Sixty Years Later, Film Relives Ferocity of Hurricane Carol

Footage from home movies shows Hurricane Carol as she howled her way across Martha's Vineyard 60 years ago this week. Longtime Islanders recall that summer morning in 1954 when forecasters said Carol would weaken and turn out to sea, but the hurricane had other plans.

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 historicmovies@mvgazette.com

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.