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George Eastman Museum introduces Online Finding Aids for the Manuscript Collections of Four Independent Filmmakers

Rochester, N.Y., May 31, 2016—The George Eastman Museum announced today that it is now offering online access to finding aids for the manuscript collections of independent filmmakers Douglass Crockwell, Leo Hurwitz, James Reese, and Lothar Wolff. These research tools provide scholars, students, and the public with the means to discover the contents of these four filmmakers’ unique collections. The finding aids are accessible at eastman.org/finding-aids.

The creation of these finding aids was made possible by a multi-year grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) through the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program. The grant project, “Documenting Their Films: Hidden Collections of Four Independent Filmmakers,” focused on arranging and describing these filmmakers’ manuscript collections, which consist of primary materials that do not exist elsewhere.

“Previously these collections were only documented internally, in essence ‘hidden’ from being discovered in today’s world of online searching,” said Nancy Kauffman, archivist, Moving Image Department, George Eastman Museum. “The funding from CLIR enabled us to hire two experienced project archivists to process the four collections and create the finding aids that will facilitate and increase their discovery in an online environment.”

The four diverse filmmakers whose collections are represented with the finding aids are:

Douglass Crockwell (1904-1968) was a commercial illustrator and a contemporary of Norman Rockwell, an experimental filmmaker of abstract animation, and a collector of Mutoscope reels, which he repurposed for his own animated works. His collection consists of personal papers, professional documents, films, Mutoscope reels, flip books, drawings, and photographs documenting his professional, civic, and personal life.

Leo Hurwitz (1909-1991) played a significant role in the radical cooperative documentary filmmaking movement of the 1930’s, and although blacklisted during the McCarthy era, he persisted in using film to document social injustices and the human condition throughout his entire career. His collection is comprised of correspondence (both business and personal), photographs, scripts, storyboards, publications and clippings, research materials, financial records, promotional material, interviews, festival materials, and audio tapes.

James Reese (1914-1993) produced industrial films for General Electric, and later as a university professor, made ethnographic and naturalist films in Western New York and Mexico. His collection consists of artwork, awards, scripts, and materials from film labs.

Lothar Wolff (1909-1988) was chief editor and assistant producer for the landmark March of Time series. In his own words a “scientific moron,” he later made a series of films on the sun, moon, Earth, and solar system for National Geographic and the National Academy of Sciences. His collection is comprised of correspondence, photographs, publications and clippings, research materials, awards and citations, and artwork.

From 2008 to 2014, CLIR’s Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program funded projects that enabled institutions to process collections that had not been cataloged previously. George Eastman Museum was one of twenty-two recipients nationwide to receive funding from CLIR in its 2013 grant cycle. CLIR recently redeveloped and expanded the program to include the digitization of hidden collections and the program is now called Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives. 

About the George Eastman Museum

Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and of photographic preservation and collection management. For more information, visit eastman.org

About CLIR

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. CLIR administers this national grant program with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information about CLIR and the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program (now the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program), visit clir.org/hiddencollections.