Collections

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The Film & Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis opened its doors to the public in September 2002 with the acquisition of the Henry Hampton Collection. Unique among cultural institutions that collect moving image and sound media, Washington University Libraries' Film & Media Archive is comprised not only of completed works in film and video, but also of the numerous materials that went into the creation of works related to Civil Rights, African-American life, the history of Harlem, social justice, democracy and the arts.

The collections contain primary source material including original filmed interviews and outtakes, rare stock footage, photographs, producers’ research and notes, treatments, scripts, storyboards, and correspondence, all of which provide a distinctive look at the filmmaking and storytelling process for scholars, teachers, filmmakers, and students. Since 2002, the Archive has acquired several other important collections and now holds 6,500,000 feet of film, 1,300 linear feet of manuscripts, approximately 20,000 videotapes, over 10,000 audiotapes and reels, and a significant library of books, CDs and DVDs.

fmaIncludes all materials from 8 major PBS television series (1986-2002) as well as early Blackside films and records (1968-1985). Topics include: civil rights, the great depression, poverty in America, African-American art and artists in the 20th century, and African-American religion and spirituality. More...

milesIncludes all PBS series and other television programs from 1979-1998. Topics include WWI, WWII, blacks in the military, black athletes, history of Harlem, and black cowboys. More...

Portrait of Frank Marshall DavisThis collection contains an interview conducted with Frank Marshall Davis, notable African-American poet and journalist and former head of the American Negro Press, and recordings of poetry readings, photographs and news clippings. The Film and Media Archive partnered with the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) at the University of Hawai'i to preserve and digitize this interview. More...

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In 2003, Washington University's Film and Media Archive acquired two hundred 16mm film titles from the St. Louis Public School's Film Collection. This collection of academic or educational films mainly from the 1960's and 70's covers a wide range of subjects including African-American history, the labor movement, advertising, and social education films. This genre of film includes purely education documentaries, dramatizations of literature and history, and "guidance" films which were made to highlight social mores, or focus on safety issues. Federal funding throughout the 50's, 60's and 70's helped make this a thriving genre.

Another portion of the collection went to the St. Louis branch of the Academic Film Archive of North America. Many of these academic films are in danger of being lost and an effort is underway to preserve these films. Sample titles from the collection include, Eli Whitney; Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad; Immigrant from America; Minorities - Patterns of Change; Tribute to Malcolm X; The Labor Movement: Beginnings and Growth in America.