Exhibition Reel of Two Color Film (ca. 1929)

An experimental color short in Brewster Color, preserved by George Eastman House and presented on the More Treasures DVD set.

Major Federal Archives Join Forces to Save Rare American Films

Press release courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Philadelphia (April 7, 1999)—The Pew Charitable Trusts today announced a cultural heritage grant of $200,000 to support Treasures of American Film Archives, a collaborative project organized by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) in celebration of the year 2000. The Pew Charitable Trusts' award will fund film preservation work at five federal archives, saving such classics as The Emperor Jones, starring Paul Robeson, and Frank Capra's World War II series Why We Fight.

Participating in this national initiative are the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and National Museum of Natural History.

"By helping to save these films, we are saving important parts of our past," said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts. "We are delighted to join forces with the NFPF to keep these memories alive."

Through The Pew Charitable Trusts' grant, federal archives will join forces with 12 nonprofit and state archives whose participation is funded through the National Endowment for the Arts. Treasures of American Film Archives is the largest collaborative preservation and access initiative to be undertaken by the American film archival community. Working with the NFPF, all 17 archives will preserve and showcase American "orphan films," or works not protected by commercial interests.

"The American people have entrusted our nation's film heritage to the Library of Congress and other archives," said Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress and an NFPF board member. "Only by working together can we save this vital historical record for the coming Millennium."

Treasures of American Film Archives will preserve a wide range of orphan films documenting American culture and history including newsreels, silent-era films, documentaries, home movies, avant-garde works, and independent productions. The Treasures initiative will make new preservation copies of films at participating archives, exhibit excerpts of these works at screenings during the year 2000, and produce a video set of rarely seen films for free distribution to state libraries and for sale to the public.

Other orphans to be preserved through The Pew Charitable Trusts' grant are:

  • Films discovered at the Thomas Edison Laboratory in West Orange, NJ.
  • Home movies of Duke Ellington's band on tour.
  • Field footage shot by pioneering American anthropologists Margaret Mead and Melville Herskovits.
  • Western Union films showing American industry at work.
  • In-flight footage of the Hindenburg captured by a home movie hobbyist.
  • Early test flight films from the Keystone Aircraft Corporation.

The Pew Charitable Trusts support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts make strategic investments to help organizations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficult problems. In 1998, with approximately $4.7 billion in assets, the Trusts granted more than $213 million to 298 nonprofit organizations.

The National Film Preservation Foundation, organizer of the Treasures of American Film Archives, is an independent nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to save America's film heritage. The NFPF supports film preservation activities nationwide that ensure the physical survival of film for future generations and improve access to film for study, education and exhibition.

Additional information is available on the NFPF web site: www.filmpreservation.org

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