By John Quirk
Of all the varied collections available in our CONTENTdm database, no collection, in my opinion, is as universally engaging, entertaining and historically valuable as the films from Moving Image Research Collections’ Fox Movietone News. At over 7,000 items (and growing), it is also the largest single collection our the Digital Collections repository. The majority of the collection consists of Movietone newsreel outtakes and unused content from the 1910s-1940s covering a vast array of topics.
The University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections is one of the biggest academic film archives in the country. It is part of the University Libraries’ special collections and features tens of thousands of films. This vast and ever-growing archive includes news film from local television stations, home movies, films from the United States Marine Corps, a collection of Chinese films and more. But the collection that started it all was the donation in 1980 of the Fox Movietone newsreel materials.
In the days before television, newsreels were shown in theaters before feature films. These short-subject films included stories on national and global politics, historic events, arts, fashion and entertaining human-interest stories. Newsreels covered topics as wide ranging as the meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Casablanca, (partial video embedded; full video: https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/6797/rec/28) the sculpting of Mount Rushmore (https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/4491/rec/1), and the hairstyle fashions of 1928(https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/2638/rec/10).
The migration of the Fox Movietone collection is part of a larger effort to make the Moving Image Research Collections’ holdings more discoverable and widely accessible online by transferring their collections to our CONTENTdm repository. I encourage you to explore the Fox Movietone News collection; try the search box below. You can watch some complete newsreels from World War II by clicking here. Also, check out the many other online collections available from MIRC by clicking here.