Home Movie Day 2019: The Films of Harry J. Christoffers

In honor of Home Movie Day, we’re featuring a collection of home movies recently preserved by the Motion Picture Preservation Lab and providing some tips for how to care for your home movies. Home Movie Day is an annual event to raise awareness of the importance of home movies and encourage their preservation. This year’s … Continue reading Home Movie Day 2019: The Films of Harry J. Christoffers

The Supreme Court Building (Local Identifier: 64-M-54)

Toward Justice Supreme: Commemorating the Establishment of the Supreme Court

After the ratification of the United States Constitution, newly-elected senators and representatives were faced with the task of creating a functioning government based on a four-page framework. The first session of the First United States Congress, held in 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City, set about erecting many of the institutions of government … Continue reading Toward Justice Supreme: Commemorating the Establishment of the Supreme Court

(Aug. 2, 2006) The US Navy (USN) Northwest Band plays military music during the Seattle Seafair Parade of Ships in Seattle Washington (WA). The parade marks the beginning of Seafair's Fleet Week by our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication SPECIALIST Third Class Douglas G. Morrison (RELEASED). Local Identifier: 330-CFD-DN-SD-07-09532 (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6699020)

Summer Road Trip: Maritime Matters in Bremerton and Seattle

It’s 75 miles from Port Angeles to the City of Bremerton, Washington, the next stop on our NARA summer road trip. Our drive takes us past Discovery Bay and over the Hood Canal Bridge. We can see the Olympic Mountains in the West, prompting us to remember yesterday’s visit to Olympic National Park. As we … Continue reading Summer Road Trip: Maritime Matters in Bremerton and Seattle

Animatics and Anti-Communism: Payut Ngaokrachang Animates Hanuman for the USIA

We work on a lot of cartoons in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab. Some were made for military service members. Some were made to illustrate the dangers of drug use. But the most consistently surprising cartoons are the ones we find in the films of the United States Information Agency (USIA). During the Cold War … Continue reading Animatics and Anti-Communism: Payut Ngaokrachang Animates Hanuman for the USIA

Falling Down an Archival Rabbit Hole: Following the Trail from Finished Film Back to the Research that Inspired It

We’ve written here before about the 2007 rescue of a treasure-trove of government films from a shuttered film laboratory. Archivists from the National Archives recovered many films produced across the Federal government so they could be preserved and made accessible to the public. You may be familiar with the anti-drug film Curious Alice, but I … Continue reading Falling Down an Archival Rabbit Hole: Following the Trail from Finished Film Back to the Research that Inspired It

Now Showing: George Washington Carver on Kodachrome

One of our Motion Picture Preservation Lab staff identified a remarkable film in a recent accession of audiovisual material from the National Park Service (NPS). The film features amateur footage of George Washington Carver, the famed African-American botanist and inventor who taught for decades at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama. During his time … Continue reading Now Showing: George Washington Carver on Kodachrome

Stock Footage Spotlight: Historically Black Colleges and Universities in WWII

When scanning films in the National Archives Motion Picture Lab, we sometimes come across images that we want to learn more about. We recently transferred several reels of unedited footage depicting African American college students in various classroom settings. The posters on the wall indicated that the footage had been shot during wartime. The slates … Continue reading Stock Footage Spotlight: Historically Black Colleges and Universities in WWII

The Measure of a Screen: Motion Picture Aspect Ratios in the Archives

Take a look at the two movie screens in the photos below. Notice anything different? The screen in the color image, photographed in 1998, is much wider than that in the 1946 black-and-white image. Each screen has a different aspect ratio. Merriam-Webster defines motion picture aspect ratio as “the ratio of the width of a … Continue reading The Measure of a Screen: Motion Picture Aspect Ratios in the Archives

Film Preservation 101: Scratch Hazards and Fixes

For those working with archival films, encountering film scratches is just part of the job. At the National Archives we care for films that range from pristine camera negatives with not a scratch to be seen, all the way to beat-up projection prints that look like they were rubbed with sandpaper. Scratches can be black … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Scratch Hazards and Fixes

Fractured Ideals: Japanese American Internment through a Government Lens

America stands unique in the world: the only country not founded on race but on a way, an ideal. Not in spite of but because of our polyglot background, we have had all the strength in the world. That is the American way. –President Ronald Reagan December 1945, in honor of Kazuo Masuda and August 10, … Continue reading Fractured Ideals: Japanese American Internment through a Government Lens