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Exploring the Origins of Youth Media

We're digging into the archive of one youth media practitioner, Robert J. Clark, Jr., who worked with thousands of children and teens in Willow Grove PA over more than 20 years under the aegis of Cinekyd.

The youth media community, which now has a place in countless venues and scholarly discourses, reflects an evolution of practices pioneered in the 1960s and 1970s as amateur filmmaking increasing became a reality in American families, schools and communities. We presented a paper on this topic at the Northeast Historic Film Summer Symposium on July 27, 2012. Check out these short excerpts from four feature-length(!) films created by Robert Clark and the Cinekyds between 1976 - 1982:


In this paper, we examine the youth media films of Robert J. Clark, Jr. as a representative early example of a particular mode of expression within the youth media community. We examine the historical development of a youth media practitioner who worked in both a school and an after-school learning environment for over 25 years, beginning in 1970 and continuing to 2005. 

Read the publication to learn more about four narrative feature-length films created by children ages 9 – 17 between 1976 – 1982 as both historical film objects and as evidence of learning experiences. We seek to identify the links between past and present in the continued popularization of youth media practices in schools, after-school learning environments, and camps as an issue of significant importance for archivists and historians, communities, and schools. Though its amateurishness can often be strange, even off-putting, to wider audiences (one reason why much youth media is rarely showcased and often discarded upon completion), youth media and documentation of its creation also offer insights on the relationship between children and their adult mentors and between youth media authors and their presumed and real audiences.