Last July, while completing a training rotation in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, I was tasked with inspecting the condition of film. Inspections are a basic operation the lab performs to ensure film holdings are properly handled and maintained. After spending most of my time with black and white film, I was excited when asked to inspect color footage. … Continue reading Youth Visits Our Nation’s Capital: A Glimpse of Spring 1939 in Washington, D.C.
This Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will have tracked Santa Claus's journey around the world for 60 years. Colonel Harry Shoup began the tradition in 1955, after receiving a phone call from a child expecting to reach Santa Claus. The misdirected call was the result of the child reversing two numbers of a Santa … Continue reading Vintage Footage Reveals How NORAD Tracks Santa
Donna Anoskey and Dan Rooney contributed to this post. Years ago many government agencies, along with Hollywood and independent film makers, stored film productions with the private laboratories that provided their duplication services. In 2001, one of the premier film facilities on the East Coast, in business for over 50 years, went bankrupt, still in possession of … Continue reading The Tale of the Forgotten Films: An Archival Rescue
A few months ago, I spent more time than usual with a film reference request. The film copy that came down for Clear Skies, Clean Air (1971) was 35/32mm, which meant that I had to make a print before I could run it on the film scanner. I listened to the soundtrack several times while … Continue reading In Search of…Leonard Nimoy
Christmas movies are a staple of the holidays, with cable channels producing and airing so many that the season now seems to start sometime in November. Holiday films are nothing new, of course. The earliest known adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was made over a hundred years ago, in 1901. Even the Ford … Continue reading Christmas in the Ford Collection: A Merry Christmas to All, 1926
This post was written by Heidi Holmstrom. Heidi works in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, which is responsible for performing conservation and preservation work on motion picture records held across the National Archives. In past blog posts, we've highlighted some of the favorite films of Motion Picture Preservation Lab staff. Because the motion picture holdings at the National … Continue reading Mortal Moonshine: Treasury Agents Take On Backwoods Bootleggers
This week's story features a demonstration of the "often-forecast" videophone. Today, numerous devices and programs enable video calling, but the videophone as a separate appliance never quite took off. One reason why 1955 was not the year for the video phone is the price tag: According to the Universal news story, the videophone cost $5000.00, or about $43,000.00 in today's dollars. … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: Video Phone Demonstration, 1955
In this story from Universal News, swimsuit-clad women participate in a pie-baking contest on the beach. While there is not much more to be said about the story itself, it is a classic example of the "Bathing Beauties" that appear in the Universal newsreels throughout the 1930s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VepP0WU8j94 The original release sheet reads: Bathing Beauties … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: A Pie-Baking Contest at the Beach, 1936
The launch of Sputnik and the space race led to an era of optimism which influenced pop-culture in America and overseas. We imagined where we might live, the clothes we might wear and the cars we might drive. Words and phrases such as astro and space age entered our vocabulary as a way to describe … Continue reading Looking to the Future: Space Culture on Film
Today we’re debuting our new name! From now on, the blog of the National Archives’ Special Media Services Division will be known as The Unwritten Record. We’ll feature the same great content—film, photographs, videos, sound recordings, and other non-textual records from the National Archives’ holdings-- just with a new and improved name! Media Matters was fine, … Continue reading Introducing The Unwritten Record!