As you may know, the Library of Congress is the nation’s library and archives. As of September 2020, the LOC has amassed a total of 171,636,507 items in the collections. But they have way more than just books and maps. They have every type of photographs, flyers, posters, music, radio and television broadcasts, video games, and films starting beginning from the invention of the moving image until now.
This takes us to the National Film Registry, established by an act in 1988. The National Film Registry’s mission, is to ensure the conservation and survival of America’s history on film. The films included in the registry are not just blockbuster movies (although movies The Wizard of Oz, E.T., The Godfather, and Shrek are in there). The criteria to be selected for this honor requires the film to be any moving image, if the original format is not available a copy will be used, and the “film must be at least 10 years old and be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
All About Eve
Gus Visser and His Singing Duck (Considered the world’s first music video.)
Gone With the Wind
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (Which features my namesake, Katharine Hepburn, and one of my mom’s favorite movies.)
The Right Stuff
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Jazz Singer (Please keep in mind this was released in 1927. Though it depicts harmful stereotypes, it’s the film the marked the end of the silent film era.)
Raiders of the Last Ark
Planet of the Apes
Tin Toy (Pixar’s first computer-animated film and the pre-cursor to Toy Story)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Imitation of Life (1959)
The Muppet Movie
Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Yes, really.)
A League of Their Own
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Saving Private Ryan
V-E Day +1 (May 9, 1945)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (The first motion picture… legally speaking)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The Dark Knight
What is interesting to think is that these films will be preserved as long as the American Government as we know it today still stands, there will always be a copy of it for someone to watch. I think it is pretty cool that the Newark Athlete film, made in 1891 and is over 110 years old and is the oldest in the collection, is able to be viewed by anyone, anytime. Now think of more current movies that in there like The Matrix or Toy Story. Will people from 100 years from now look at give a chuckle because of how olds and outdated it looks? Or will they look in awe and marvel just as I am about how all of these great films, newsreels, documentaries, and so much more are being preserved and readily available.
The Freeman/Lozier has many great resources on the Library of Congress available in print and digital formats.