Practice Makes Perfect: How the Apollo 11 Crew Prepared for Launch

This post was written by Ivy Donnell, a technician in NARA's Motion Picture Preservation Lab. You may have recently seen Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 documentary, featuring archival film from the National Archives’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) holdings. The film footage of Apollo 11 makes the July 16, 1969 launch and subsequent Moon … Continue reading Practice Makes Perfect: How the Apollo 11 Crew Prepared for Launch

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

Hidden Women Update: WWI Camouflage in Action

You may remember our July 2016 post about the Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps, made up of women artists who developed camouflage for use by American troops in Europe during World War I. The website Atlas Obscura also featured the story and photos in October 2016. The Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps photos held by the National … Continue reading Hidden Women Update: WWI Camouflage in Action

Obsolete Instruction, or What to Do When Your St. Bernard Has a Hangover

The rumors would usually start at lunchtime. “Did you hear we’re watching a movie today?” The whispers and the excitement would grow during recess, and then came exclamations of joy and/or relief as we filed back into the classroom to find the projector set up. For the next twenty minutes (or longer with the inevitable … Continue reading Obsolete Instruction, or What to Do When Your St. Bernard Has a Hangover

Mission Specialist (MS) Ride at forward flight deck pilots stations controls.

Sally Ride and the Women of NASA

As a girl growing up in the 1980s, Sally Ride was my hero. At that young age, I didn’t yet understand all of the battles women had fought for equality, but if I declared that I was going to be an astronaut someday, no one could dismiss my dream offhand and tell me that was … Continue reading Sally Ride and the Women of NASA