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Archival News
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Past Issues of Archival News can be found here

Archival News 59.1 Fall 2019
Edited by Rielle Navitski


ACQUISITIONS

Bela Lugosi’s Cape from Dracula, Jack Nicholson’s Jacket from The Shining Among Costumes Acquired by Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Bela Lugosi’s Cape from Dracula, Jack Nicholson’s Jacket from The Shining Among Costumes Acquired by Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Publicity still of Bela Lugosi in Dracula (Tod Browning, 1931). New York Public Library Digital Collections.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’s collection now boasts the cape worn by Bela Lugosi in the title role of Dracula (Tod Browning, 1931), a partial gift from the actor’s heirs, the museum announced in October. Other gifts include Shirley Temple’s scepter and dress from The Little Princess (Walter Lang, 1939) and a hat worn by Debbie Rogers in Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952). The museum built on its holdings of three-dimensional artifacts—which it has been amassing since 2008—with the purchase of costumes from The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) including the red jacket worn by Jack Nicholson in the film; a robe Marlene Dietrich donned for Blonde Venus (Josef von Sternberg, 1931); Elizabeth Taylor’s gold-trimmed wig from Cleopatra (1963); and a suit worn by Sammy Davis Jr. as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess (Otto Preminger, 1959). The museum is due to open in February 2020 after multiple delays.

 

For more on the acquisitions, see here and here.

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Camera from Raj Kapoor’s Debut Feature Among Materials Gifted to Film Heritage Foundation

Camera from Raj Kapoor’s Debut Feature Among Materials Gifted to Film Heritage Foundation

A poster for Kaj Kapoor’s first film as director, Aag (Fire, 1948). The camera used in shooting is part of a recent donation from the Kapoor family to the Film Heritage Foundation. FilmIndia, March 1948 via Media History Digital Library.


Following the closure of RK Studios—founded by iconic actor-director Raj Kapoor in 1948, devasted by fire in 2017, and sold to real estate developers earlier this year—Kapoor’s family has entrusted Mumbai’s Film Heritage Foundation with a cache of cameras, posters, lobby cards, stills, and volumes from Kapoor’s personal library. Among the materials —which were spared from the blaze that consumed the studio’s entire costume department, destroyed with pieces from all Kapoor’s past films—is the camera used to shoot Aag (Fire, 1948), Kapoor’s first directorial effort. The memorabilia are slated for public display in December at an upcoming film restoration workshop in Hyderabad.

Read more about the donation here and here.

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Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive Launches Video Game Collection

Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive Launches Video Game Collection

 

Launch screen of The Hobbit (Beam Software, 1982), the earliest title in the National Film and Sound Archive’s new collection of Australian games. Internet Archive.

 

Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive announced a new initiative to collect and preserve Australian-made video games in advance of the opening of Game Masters: The Exhibition in September. Originally created by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in 2012, the exhibit was updated for its current run in Canberra and offers 80 playable games. To date, the National Film and Sound Archive has acquired eight domestically produced titles, ranging from The Hobbit (Beam Software, 1982) and L.A. Noire (Team Bondi, 2011) to the BAFTA-award-winning mobile game Florence (Mountains/Annapurna Interactive, 2018) and the forthcoming virtual reality game Espire 1 (Digital Lode, 2019).

More information about the initiative is available here and

 


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PRESERVATION

India’s National Film Archive Obtains Rare Images of Mahatma Gandhi

 

Still of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi planting a tree during a trip to the UK. National Film Archive of India via Twitter.


The National Film Archive of India located roughly six hours of footage of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi on thirty reels held by private individuals in the run-up to an October 2 screening marking the 150th anniversary of the leader’s birth. Much of the footage was widely seen in newsreels produced by companies such as Pathé, Universal, British Movietone, and Wadia Movietone. Yet other segments appear to be one-of-a-kind, including images documenting the aftermath of the leader’s assassination in 1948 and the crowds of mourners surrounding the train carrying his ashes. The archive has created a duplicate negative of the reels to ensure their long-term survival, and the footage is slated for future digitization.

For more on the footage, see here and here.

 

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Germany’s Film Heritage Funding Program to Devote €10 Million to Film Preservation and Digitization in 2020

Germany’s Film Heritage Funding Program to Devote €10 Million to Film Preservation and Digitization in 2020

 

Frame enlargement from Alice in the Cities (Wim Wenders, 1973) showing the image before and after a digital restoration completed in 2014 with funding from Germany’s Film Heritage Funding Program. Wim Wenders Foundation.

Germany’s
Förderprogramm Filmerbe (Film Heritage Funding Program) will boost financial support for film restoration and digitization fivefold in 2020, with the funding level to be maintained for at least a decade, Rainer Rother of the Deutsche Kinematek announced at Lyon’s Lumière Festival in October. Responding to archives’, festivals’ and distributors’ growing interest in making classic titles available, the initiative provides support of up to €40,000 per feature film, covering up to 100 percent of preservation and digitization costs for cultural heritage institutions and 80 percent in the case of for-profit companies. Rother noted that the initiative would aid the Deutsche Kinematek to preserve and digitize 25 features in 2020, with similar numbers achieved by the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation.

See here for more on the initiative.

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Fujifilm Drops Patent Lawsuit Against Sony, Bringing Latest Generation of LTO Tape for Digital Storage Back on the Market

LTO tapes in an Iron Mountain storage facility in New Jersey. Photo by Ike Edeani for Bloomberg Businessweek.

In August, Fujifilm and Sony, the sole manufacturers of LTO-8, the latest generation of magnetic tape used for digital data storage in archives and other contexts, resolved a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Fujifilm against its competitor in 2016. The dispute had rendered LTO-8 tapes unavailable for much of 2019, with users forced to use LTO-7 tapes in LTO-8 drives. LTO tapes are backwards compatible with existing drives for only one generation, leading to a continual need to migrate digital data at considerable cost (up to $40,000 for a feature film). The LTO-9 format, which has double the capacity of LTO-8 and quadruple that of LTO-7 at 24 terabytes per tape, will debut in 2020, meaning that LTO-7 tapes created during the dispute will be unusable on the new equipment.

See here and here for additional information on the lawsuit and its impact.

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INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Argentina’s First Film Restoration Lab Under Construction

Argentina’s First Film Restoration Lab Under Construction

A rendering of storage vaults in Buenos Aires’s future film restoration laboratory. Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales.

 Three years after Argentina’s last photochemical film lab was shuttered, the Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales and Buenos Aires’s Ministerio de la Cultura, announced the construction of a new facility dedicated to film restoration and preservation in Buenos Aires. Conserving the collections of the Cinemateca y Archivo de la Imagen Nacional (CINAIN), a division of INCAA, and the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken (which is financed by the city) will be a core focus of the laboratory’s work. Modeled in part on facilities in Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden, the laboratory’s plans were developed in consultation with the staff of the Filmoteca de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Cinemateca Portuguesa as well as local experts. The laboratory will be equipped with vaults for the storage of flammable nitrate film as well as equipment for analog and digital film preservation.

 For more on the project, see here, here (in Spanish) and here (in Spanish).

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Cinémathèque Suisse Opens a Research and Archive Center Three Decades in the Making

Cinémathèque Suisse Opens a Research and Archive Center Three Decades in the Making

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The Cinémathèque Suisse’s new facility in Penthaz, designed by the Swiss architectural film EM2N. Wallpaper.

 Housing 700,000 film reels, 2.5 million photographs, 26,000 books, and 2,000 historic cameras, the Cinémathèque Suisse’s Centre de recherche et d’archivage outside Lausanne opened its doors to the public in September in the culmination of an endeavor begun over thirty years ago. Freddy Buache, the former director of the Cinémathèque Suisse who passed away in May 2019, brokered the purchase of an abandoned bookbinding factory where the facility stands in 1988, which the government agreed to assume control of a decade later. Construction on the facility began in 2011 in the wake of a series of redesigns to accommodate the growing importance of digital preservation and restoration (the archive restores six or seven features and around forty shorts each year). Over three thousand visitors streamed through the facility on its opening weekend. The cinémathèque is also engaged in the expansion and architectural restoration of the historic Capitole movie theater in Lausanne.

 For more on the Centre de recherche et d’archivage, see here and here

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L’Immagine Ritrovata to Assume Control of Struggling Eclair Cinéma Film Lab

L’Immagine Ritrovata to Assume Control of Struggling Eclair Cinéma Film Lab

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Film inspection at L’Immagine Ritrovata. Cineteca di Bologna.

 The prominent Italian film restoration lab L’Immagine Ritrovata agreed to take over Eclair Cinéma, an established French postproduction and restoration company and subsidiary of the Ymagis group, in September. Eclair Cinéma entered receivership in November 2018 after Ymagis—a European conglomerate focused on digital technologies for the audiovisual sector—announced that the lab accounted for almost all of its losses and only 5.5 percent of its revenues in the first half of 2018. Pending approval by a French commercial court, L’Immagine Ritrovata’s French subsidiary L’image retrouvée will acquire Ymagis’s shares of Eclair Cinéma, which now has an exclusive focus on film restoration.

 For more details of the deal, see here and here.

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Films Suffer Damage in Thai Film Archive Fire

Films Suffer Damage in Thai Film Archive Fire

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A temporary office at the Thai Film Archive burned in late September, resulting in damage to films undergoing inspection. The Nation-Thailand.

 A blaze engulfed the second floor of an outbuilding used for film inspection at the Thai Film Archive in late September, resulting in fire and water damage to collection items. According the archive, physical or digital copies exist of the majority of the “few dozen” films on site—which included titles from the 1930s and 1940s—and most escaped damage, as the blaze was extinguished by firefighters in under an hour. Although nitrate films were present, the source of the fire (which is still under investigation) is suspected to be an electrical short circuit.

 For more on the incident, see here and here.

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GRANTS AND AWARDS

National Endowment for the Humanities Awards Over $690,000 to George Eastman House for Nitrate Preservation and Photographic Digitization

National Endowment for the Humanities Awards Over $690,000 to George Eastman House for Nitrate Preservation and Photographic Digitization

 

Three prints of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) donated by David Selznick (son of producer David O. Selznick) are among the 24,000 reels of nitrate held by the George Eastman House.

The George Eastman House has secured two major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the agency announced in September. The first award of $340,641 will go towards a $730,000 upgrade to the institution’s nitrate storage facilities, including the purchase of a back-up generator and improvements to the energy efficiency of the climate control system and the building as a whole. The archive holds over 24,000 nitrate film reels, including the original camera negatives for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, both directed by Victor Fleming in 1939. A second grant of $350,000 will support the creation of a comprehensive catalogue for the Alden Scott Boyer Collection—which comprises largely 19th-century British and US photography—and the digitization of the images, to be made freely available online.

More information about the grant-supported projects is available here and here.

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South Side Home Movie Project to Boost Interactivity of its Online Portal with Grant from Graham Foundation

South Side Home Movie Project to Boost Interactivity of its Online Portal with Grant from Graham Foundation

Lynette Frazier poses in her bridesmaid’s dress in a home movie from the 1960s. South Side Home Movie Project.

A grant from the Graham Foundation, established in 1956 with a bequest from architect Ernest R. Graham, will help fund new features of the South Side Home Movie Project Interactive Digital Archive, the online portal for University of Chicago’s South Side Home Movie Project. Led by Dr. Jacqueline Stewart—who recently became Turner Classic Movies’s first African-American host—the South Side Home Movie Project collects and digitizes 8mm and 16mm film produced by residents of Chicago’s South Side, shedding light on often neglected personal and community histories. The grant will fund enhancements of the site’s infrastructure designed to increase multiple forms of user engagement, ranging from crowdsourced comments that add context to individual films to contributions of digital exhibits and original artworks created using collection items.

See here for more on the grant.

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Irish Film Institute Wins First Joint Technical Symposium Award for Digital Preservation Efforts

The Irish Film Institute has won a second award for its digital preservation tools. Irish Film Institute via Flickr.

 In October, the Irish Film Institute was recognized for its creation of digital preservation tools with the inaugural award from the Joint Technical Symposium. Organized by the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations, the symposium brings together organizations like the International Federation of Film Archives and the International Federation of Television Archives. Together with other Irish Film Institute staff, Kieran O’Leary created 55 open-source tools—dubbed IFIScripts—that boost the efficiency of archival storage by automating processes like the identification of redundant or fragmentary digital copies of film footage. The British Film Institute and the University of California, Berkeley are among the adopters of IFIScripts. The Irish Film Institute’s digital preservation work was previously recognized in 2018 with an award from the International Digital Preservation Coalition.

 For more on the award, see here.

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EXHIBITIONS AND FESTIVALS

Pordenone’s Giornate del Cinema Muto Features Self-Reflexive “Films on Film” Program, Estonian Silents, Recent Restorations

Pordenone’s Giornate del Cinema Muto Features Self-Reflexive “Films on Film” Program, Estonian Silents, Recent Restorations

Still from Laenatud naene (The Borrowed Woman, Evgenii Slavinskii, 1913), the oldest surviving narrative film from Estonia. Le Giornate del Cinema Muto.

 The 2019 edition of the Giornate del Cinema Muto took a turn towards the self-referential with the program “Films on Film,” which explored cinematic visions of the movies ranging from studio tours of the 1920s to Hollywood parodies like Ella Cinders (Alfred E. Green, 1926). Other programs focused on Scandinavian advertising films, the origins of European slapstick, and cinema from Estonia, including a screening of the country’s earliest extant fiction film, Laenatud naene (The Borrowed Woman, Evgenii Slavinskii, 1913). Recently restored films screened at the festival include 日本南極探検隊 (Japanese Expedition to Antarctica, Yasunao Taizumi, 1912) and the Argentine feature El último malón (The Last Indian Raid, Alcides Greca, 1917).

 The full program can be accessed here.

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LA’s Natural History Museum Showcases Venerable Collection of Props in Exhibit on Universal’s Monsters

LA’s Natural History Museum Showcases Venerable Collection of Props in Exhibit on Universal’s Monsters

Shackles worn by Boris Karloff in a deleted scene from Frankenstein (James Whale, 1932). Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

In its Natural History of Horror exhibit (October 10, 2019 – April 12, 2020), the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County delved into the science behind iconic movie monsters, ranging from the cholera epidemics that shaped the source text of Dracula (Tod Browning, 1931)—the rumors that some victims were buried alive informed how Bram Stoker imagined the vampire’s sleeping habits—to the ancient and living sea creatures that inspired The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954). The exhibit draws on the museum’s historic collection of movie props—initiated in 1930, it is one of the world’s oldest—displaying such objects as Boris Karloff’s wraps from The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932), the shackles worn by Frankenstein’s monster in a scene cut from the film due to censorship concerns, and a bat from Dracula. A companion exhibit on the links between the Godzilla franchise and the fallout (literal and political) from nuclear tests in the Pacific opened on October 16.

See here and here for more information.

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Lumière Festival Celebrates Tenth Anniversary with Francis Ford Coppola Retrospective, La roue Restoration’s French Premiere

Lumière Festival Celebrates Tenth Anniversary with Francis Ford Coppola Retrospective, La roue Restoration’s French Premiere

 

Publicity still for Abel Gance’s La roue (The Wheel, 1923). Cinéa, January 12, 1923 via Media History Digital Library.

Marking ten years of programming focused on classic and restored films, the 2019 festival hosted by Lyon’s Institut Lumière combined rarities and silent fare—including the French premiere of the restored La roue (The Wheel, Abel Gance, 1923)—with more crowd-pleasing programs. These ranged from overnight marathons of George Romero’s Trilogy of the Dead, both versions of Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (the original inverted narrative from 2002 and a chronological version edited in 2019) and a full retrospective of the works of Bong Joon-Ho, director of the 2019 Palme d’Or-winning 기생충 (Parasite) and a guest of honor at the festival. The festival paid homage to Francis Ford Coppola, recipient of the 2019 Lumière Award, with a partial retrospective that included an overnight showing of The Godfather trilogy and the screening of Apocalypse Now: Final Cut that closed the festival.

The full festival program is available here; for more information, see here.

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New Zealand’s Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Displays Rare Footage in Rust + Restoration/He Waikura He Whakauka Exhibition

New Zealand’s Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Displays Rare Footage in Rust + Restoration/He Waikura He Whakauka Exhibition

Nitrate decomposition rendered some items from the recently acquired Thomas Henry Whitten Collection unsalvageable. Photo by Kurt Ozen. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

 Highlights of the preservation work performed by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, New Zealand’s national media archive, are currently being showcased in Rust + Restoration/He Waikura He Whakauka. Perhaps the most striking discovery on exhibit is footage showing the aftermath of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, New Zealand’s most devastating natural disaster to date. Shot by Thomas Henry Whitten, the film lay untouched for nearly 90 years before being obtained by the archive during a restoration outreach event. The Rust + Restoration exhibition runs through February 2020 in the Te Puna Foundation Gallery at the National Library.

 For more on the exhibit, see here and here.

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Deutsche Kinematek’s Fourth Edition of Film:ReStored Highlights Cinematic Sound

Deutsche Kinematek’s Fourth Edition of Film:ReStored Highlights Cinematic Sound

Die Jagd nach der Million (The Chase after Millions, Max Obal, 1930), a part-talkie that became an early sensation of German sound cinema after beginning its life as a silent release. Deutsche Kinematek.

Focusing on an oft-neglected aspect of audiovisual heritage—the film soundtrack—the Deutsche Kinematek’s Film:Restored_04 festival in October combined screenings with workshops and lectures on film sound restoration, which addressed the special problems posed by nitrate sound-on-film, variable density soundtracks, and original scores for silent films. For instance, the festival paired a workshop on the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum's restoration of Die Jagd nach der Million (The Chase after Millions, Max Obal, 1930)—a silent film that was synchronized during projection with recorded sound effects on disc, which survive in fragmentary form—with a screening of the recently reconstructed German release version of the film. Other programming included avant-garde shorts that make creative use of sound dating from the 1920s to the 2010s.

The full festival program is available here.

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CONFERENCES, SYMPOSIA, AND WORKSHOPS

Archivists from the BRICS Bloc Meet for Audiovisual Preservation Summit

Archivists from the BRICS Bloc Meet for Audiovisual Preservation Summit

Participants in the BRICS Audiovisual Preservation Meeting pose at the Cinemateca do Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program via Twitter.

Archivists from the emerging nations of Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa met to discuss shared challenges and future collaborations at the BRICS Film Festival held at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Nitéroi, Brazil in late September and early October. Organized by Rafael de Luna Freire and João Luiz Vieira, the summit brought together representatives of Moscow’s Gosfilmfond, the National Film, Video, and Sound Archives of South Africa, the China Film Archive, the National Film Archive of India, and the Cinemateca Brasileira, among other institutions. The event program is available here.

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Three Major Audiovisual Archives Association Conferences Held in Europe in October

Three Major Audiovisual Archives Association Conferences Held in Europe in October

Vendor booth at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives conference in October. Melanie Lemahieu/Cloud Mine Photography, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The meetings of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives and the Joint Technical Symposium organized by the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations together took place back-to-back at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum in late September and early October. JTS panels focused largely on digital preservation issues and techniques, while the IASA program highlighted several case studies of archiving in historically marginalized communities, ranging from best practices for online collections documenting endangered languages to the preservation of 16mm films in Malawi. The International Federation of Television Archives held its own congress later in October in Dubrovnik, Croatia, with several presentations tackling the circulation and use of television content in a digital age.

Programs for the events are available here, here, and here.

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ONLINE RESOURCES

Over 2,500 Playable MS-DOS Games Now Available from Internet Archive

Over 2,500 Playable MS-DOS Games Now Available from Internet Archive

Mr Blobby (Millenium Interactive Ltd.), one of more than 2,500 MS-DOS games that can now be accessed via the Internet Archive.

In October, the Internet Archive’s collection of MS-DOS games ballooned from the 77 titles uploaded since the launch of the site’s video game collection in 2015 to over two thousand. The bulk of the games are sourced from the eXoDOS project, which is building a repository of all DOS and PC Booter games in existence—over 7,000 titles are available from the site to date—and rendering them playable using a downloadable emulator. By contrast, Internet Archive uses a browser-based emulation system, Emularity, to allow for near-instant play without additional software, though Internet Archive software curator Jason Scott warned of long load times for CD-ROM-based games due to large file sizes in a blog post on the update.

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Promotional Films of the 1950s Among 80,000 Items in New Carnegie Hall Archives Digital Collections

Promotional Films of the 1950s Among 80,000 Items in New Carnegie Hall Archives Digital Collections

Still from Concerts at Carnegie Hall – Ralph Kirkpatrick (Robert Snyder, 1953), a promotional film now available in the venue’s digital collections.

In October, Carnegie Hall launched an 80,000-item online collection that documents the venue’s history since its 1891 opening through programs, promotional materials, and booking ledgers. Collection items—which can be freely downloaded by users—are either in the US public domain or have no known copyright holder. Cinema-related highlights of the digital collection include four promotional films preserved in collaboration with New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Academy Film Archives with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Shot in 1953, the films offer a rare glimpse of pre-1960 performances in the venue. The new online collections complement a searchable database of Carnegie Hall performances launched in 2013.

More information on the collection is available here.

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National Film and Sound Archive of Australia Releases Vintage Radio Serials

Radio producer Grace Gibson (far right) circa 1944. National Film and Sound Archive, title 359204.

Marking thirty years since the death of prominent radio producer Grace Gibson, Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive added several episodes of her production company’s serials to its online Women in Radio collection in July, including crime-themed titles like Mystery is My Hobby (1954) and All This and Heaven Too (1963). Born in El Paso, Texas, Gibson began her career licensing U.S. radio dramas to Australian stations, a profitable practice she continued after founding Grace Gibson Productions, which became one of the world’s most successful radio companies, in 1944. Find out more about Gibson here.

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Archival News” reports recent news highlights from the media archive community for the JCMS readership. Some information in this column comes courtesy of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) listserv, along with institutional newsletters, websites, and press releases. This column is updated quarterly. Contributions to this column are welcomed. Information should be sent to Rielle Navitski, Theatre and Film Studies, University of Georgia, Fine Arts Building, Athens, GA, 30602-3154, email: rnavitsk@uga.edu. For news and finds from online media archives, follow @archivalnews on Twitter and Instagram.

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