Inside the Muppet workshop.

Season’s Greetings from the U.S. Information Agency: “Vision USA” Visits Emmet Otter

In the 1970s, the United States Information Agency’s "Vision USA" brought images of American life to television screens across the globe. The program focused on current events, and occasionally, Muppets. Episode 72 of "Vision USA," released in 1978, takes a behind-the-scenes look at Jim Henson's "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas." Emmet Otter was one of the … Continue reading Season’s Greetings from the U.S. Information Agency: “Vision USA” Visits Emmet Otter

“Tales from the Hoja”: Marionettes with a Message

Early this year, a small stack of 16mm film cans came down to the Motion Picture Preservation Lab for a condition assessment. They were wrapped in dirty cloth tape, and marked The Emperor’s Elephant. We were interested, thinking it might be a fun animated film. As we wound through the Kodachrome reels, we discovered beautifully detailed marionettes made … Continue reading “Tales from the Hoja”: Marionettes with a Message

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

On Finding Rabindranath Tagore

This post was written by Tisha Mondal and Judy Luis-Watson. Tisha is a National Archives Volunteer and Judy is the manager of Volunteer and Education Programs at Archives II in College Park, Maryland. This post is dedicated to the memory of Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941). His words are as meaningful in … Continue reading On Finding Rabindranath Tagore

Favorite Film Finds of 2017

This post was written with Heidi Holmstrom. In the past year, staff in the motion picture preservation lab handled millions of feet of film. Films might come to us for inspection and repair, photochemical duplication, or digitization. To continue an annual tradition, we’ve identified a handful of films that were digitized in 2017 and found their … Continue reading Favorite Film Finds of 2017

Celebrating the Bicentennial: Crafting the Old Ways

This is the second installment in our series about the United States Information Agency’s Young Film Maker Bicentennial Grant Films. In the previous post, we told you about the program and featured a trippy animated short. Today we have Sharon and Thomas Hudgins’ film Homespun and Stephen Rivkin’s Winter Count, both completed in 1975. Homespun When … Continue reading Celebrating the Bicentennial: Crafting the Old Ways

Celebrating America: The USIA Young Filmmaker Bicentennial Grant Project

The United States’ Bicentennial celebration was huge. America’s 200th birthday saturated popular culture in the mid-1970s, with Bicentennial-themed products and media. In addition, years of planning by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration culminated in a year of more formal events put on by the United States government. Many federal agencies hopped on the Bicentennial bandwagon, … Continue reading Celebrating America: The USIA Young Filmmaker Bicentennial Grant Project

Favorite Film Finds of 2016

This post was written with Heidi Holmstrom. In the past year, staff in the motion picture preservation lab handled millions of feet of film. Films might come to us for inspection and repair, photochemical duplication, or digitization. To follow up last year’s list, we’ve identified a handful of films that were digitized in 2016 and … Continue reading Favorite Film Finds of 2016

The True Story of a Blind Electrician: “Born a Man” as a Document of Disability Rights

This week we're happy to welcome guest blogger Brian Real to The Unwritten Record. Brian recently received his PhD in Information Studies from the University of Maryland. Brian regularly visits the research room in College Park so we're used to seeing his name on order sheets for reference requests. We asked him to tell us more about … Continue reading The True Story of a Blind Electrician: “Born a Man” as a Document of Disability Rights

Wealth Comes in Many Forms: William Greaves’ USIA Films

This post was written by Criss Kovac. Criss is the supervisor of the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab.  I’m fortunate that my job allows me to make a difference every day. Most days it’s because I’ve preserved a piece of history, made something accessible for research, or contributed to the archival community. It’s rare, however, … Continue reading Wealth Comes in Many Forms: William Greaves’ USIA Films