Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 11,000 digitized and videotape titles (all originally derived from film) and a large collection of home movies, amateur and industrial films acquired since 2002. Its primary collection emphasis has turned toward home movies and amateur films, with approximately 12,000 items held as of Spring 2015. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions. Getty Images represents the collection for stock footage sale, and over 6,400 items (representing approximately 4,800 distinct films) are available here.RIGHTS: Please read the text in the "Rights" box on the left of this page before contacting us with questions. PLEASE NOTE: Between 2012-2015, we uploaded newer and higher-quality versions of many titles, including one-part files of most films that were previously available only in two or more parts. STOCK FOOTAGE: Information on licensing stock footage through Getty Images, our exclusive representative, is here. The Field Guide to Sponsored Films by Rick Prelinger was published by the National Film Preservation Foundation in January 2007. It describes 452 historically or culturally significant motion pictures commissioned by businesses, charities, advocacy groups, and state or local government units between 1897 and 1980. The annotated filmography features repository information for some 350 titles as well as links to works viewable online. Also included are an introductory essay and name and subject indexes. The book is recommended for all interested in the history of advertising, industrial and sponsored films.
A free copy of the 152-page NFPF publication can be viewed and downloaded here.
Click to see a Tag Cloud of the Archive's Prelinger Collection.
Click for more information about the Prelinger Archives.Information about Prelinger Library, an appropriation-friendly library of printed materials located in San Francisco, is here.
If you have historical home movies of San Francisco or Detroit that might work in future Lost Landscapes urban history screenings, Rick would be delighted to hear from you. He can be reached here.