National Film Registry

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.”

You can view the list here and you can nominate any film here. Each December, 25 new films are chosen. Here are just some my favorite picks off the list in particular order:


All About Eve

Gertie the Dinosaur

Top Gun

The Zapruder Film

Gus Visser and His Singing Duck (Considered the world’s first music video.)

Gone With the Wind

Star Wars

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.)


Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage

Steamboat Willie

The Kiss

Raiders of the Last Ark


Planet of the Apes

Forrest Gump

Fox Movietone News: Jenkins Orphanage Band

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 T.A.M.I. Show

Disneyland Dream

George Stevens’ World War II Footage

The Muppet Movie

Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Yes, really.)

Preservation of Sign Language


A Computer Animated Hand

Nicholas Brothers’ Home Movies

A League of Their Own

The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair

One Survivor Remembers

Two-Color Kodachrome Test Shots No. III

Mary Poppins

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Saving Private Ryan

V-E Day +1 (May 9, 1945)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

The Story of Menstruation

Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (The first motion picture… legally speaking)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Fuentes Family Home Movies Collection


I am Somebody

Purple Rain

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.


Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze

The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair

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