From a woodchuck in doll clothes to a defense of the Korean War, 197 newly digitized films from the Indiana University Libraries’ educational film collection capture numerous aspects of American life from the 1940s through the 1980s.
The Indiana University Libraries Film Archive has digitized 197 educational films produced by the university, and made them available on a searchable, streamable online collection.
Covering topics as diverse as microbiology, filmmaking, pioneer life, and drinking responsibly, these IU-produced 16mm films, originally intended as instructional materials, now offer a readily available primary source for historical and cultural insights.
The digitization project is prioritizing 16mm films at the greatest risk for deterioration. Over several years, IU Digital Library Program has devoted more than $35,000 to preserve the historical films in digital format.
On its website, the program has included drop-down menus and keyword search function to provide leads to featured topics, places, creators, genres, and years of production. “Though educational films can now be viewed as amusing, cultural relics from another era, many of these films serve as important historical documents from the past,” according to IU Libraries Film Archivist Rachael Stoeltje. “We have several ‘day in the life’ films that show schoolchildren of different ages, technology-related films depicting what was then state-of-the-art photography and filmography, and films about different aspects of college life.”
Among them, she said, are Your Daughter at I.U., which attempts to explain some of the reasons a woman would attend college, and the “Inner City Dweller”series that depicts some of the urban social challenges of the 1970s. Other notable items include Booze and You’s, a 1977 primer on drinking responsibly that generated controversy upon its release due to its characterization of alcohol consumption among college students.
The Fraternity Idea, produced in 1958, features former IU President Herman Wells recalling his fraternity years, while Chucky Lou: The Story of a Woodchuck introduces viewers to a rescued woodland creature who allows children to dress her in doll clothes.
Several films also relate directly to the history of the university, including the 1961 film Presenting IU and the 1943 film IU Goes to War. Two newly digitized films from 1984 feature acclaimed IU film scholar and Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus James Naremore. He directed A Nickel for the Movies, which serves as an introduction to film theory, and stars in Having Something Printed?, which explains the process by which printed documents are prepared and produced.
The university’s film archive will continue to digitize films from its collections of more than 55,000 film reels. The archive contains one of the most extensive collections of historic educational films in existence, with more than 48,000 films intended for classroom use. The archive also houses the Bradley Film Collection, one of the largest personal film collections ever assembled; several of the items in it have also been digitized by the IU Libraries.
– from Indiana University press release