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July 30, 2008

Not Meant to Last

by Michael Langlois

The Prelenger Archives can be found here.  Why should you care?  In their own words:

Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 “ephemeral” (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 4,000 titles on videotape and a smaller collection of film materials acquired subsequent to the Library of Congress transaction. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven’t been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions. Getty Images represents the collection for stock footage sale, and almost 2,000 key titles are available here. As a whole, the collection currently contains over 10% of the total production of ephemeral films between 1927 and 1987, and it may be the most complete and varied collection in existence of films from these poorly preserved genres.

The attractiveness of the archive isn’t just in the content, although a lot of it really is pretty cool, it’s in the way the content is presented.  An amateur or non-commercial short film that is completely dedicated to its subject matter and niche audence can achieve a sort of purity that is very endearing.

If you enjoy it, check out the greater Internet Archive that contains it.

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