Historic educational films available through digital streaming
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. 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 films can be viewed online through digital streaming from the IU Libraries Film Archive.
The ongoing digitization project, which has prioritized 16mm films at the greatest risk for deterioration, has invested several years and more than $35,000 in preserving these historical films in digital format. The IU Digital Library Program has now made these films available to the public and searchable through an online interface. Drop-down menus describe featured topics, places, creators, genres and years of production, while a search function scans film titles and descriptions for keywords.
"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films can now be viewed as amusing, cultural relics from another era, many of these films serve as important historical documents from the past," said IU Libraries Film Archivist Rachael Stoeltje. "We have several 'day in the life' films that show school children of different ages, technology-related films depicting what was then state-of-the-art photography and filmography, and fascinating films about different aspects of college life."
Other notable films include "Booze and You's," a 1977 primer on drinking responsibly, which generated a great deal of controversy in its characterization of alcohol consumption among college students. "The Fraternity Idea," produced in 1958, features former IU President Herman B 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 IU, such as the 1961 film "Presenting IU" and the 1943 film "IU Goes to War." Additionally, 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 IU Libraries 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 films of which have also been digitized by the IU Libraries.