The Museum of Ventura County Research Library digitizes early 20th Century footage

Made possible by a Schwemm Family Foundation grant, the Museum of Ventura County’s (MVC) Research Library has successfully digitized the Herman Keene film collection. It is now available for viewing in an online exhibit titled, “Out And Back: Ventura County Backcountry Adventures,”

Out And Back: Ventura County Backcountry Adventures follows Herman Balden Keene (1879-1965), a

lifelong Ventura County resident, and former student of Santa Paula High School. The early footage captures Santa Paula in ways that may still be recognizable to viewers today. An avid hunter, Keene recorded his journey from his Santa Paula ranch, through Ventura County’s steep mountain ranges by car, and into the backcountry where he set up camp. The footage includes weather challenges Keene endured along the way, and how he survived the backcountry wilderness on his quest to hunt fox, bear and mountain lions.

MVC’s Research Library Director, Deya Terrafranca shares the importance of the footage, and the impact it has on Ventura County’s rich history, “Herman Keene’s footage captures a rare moment in time in the history of Ventura County, and is the only backcountry footage we have in our collection. It captures the juncture of the early days of car exploration of the backcountry, and at the same time the use of horses and pack animals.”

The Schwemm Family Foundation’s funding allowed library staff to send the film to the University of Southern California’s film department for archival digitization and rehousing. Once digitized, the footage was cataloged and added to the Museum’s growing collection of online items.

MVC’s Research Library accepts submissions to their digital archives. Contributors can fill out a brief online form and upload digital images and/or documents by visiting, and clicking on, “Digital Photographs.”

The Museum of Ventura County and the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula are both fully open and welcoming guests in-person. Admission to both locations is free for the duration of 2021. Masks are required for all visitors inside museum buildings, while vaccinated guests are welcomed to remove masks while enjoying the museums’ outdoor spaces. Please visit for more information, and to view Herman Keene’s and other online exhibits.

The Museum of Ventura County celebrates, preserves and interprets the art, history and culture of Ventura County, the California Channel Islands and the surrounding region through its collections, exhibitions, events, educational programs, publications and its research library, and serves as a gathering place for the community. The Museum has two locations – the main museum is located at 100 East Main Street, Ventura, California (805-653-0323). The Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue, Santa Paula, California (805-525-3100). Both museums are open Thursdays through Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. –

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