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Our History

The Archive's Beginnings


In late-1965, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) joined forces with the UCLA Theater Arts Department to create the ATAS/UCLA Television Library. 


The Film Department faculty founded the Film Archive. 


The Archive acquired the Jack Benny Television Collection, including all his series and specials, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame Collection. A short time later, Capitol Cities/ABC donated more than 24,000 television programs, which had aired from the early 1950s through the early 1970s, including Leave it to Beaver77 Sunset Strip, The Wonderful World of Disney, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Peyton Place.


Robert Rosen was named director of both the ATAS/UCLA Television Library and the Film Archive. The UCLA Film & Television Archive was established as a joint venture.

During its early years, the Archive amassed a serious film collection with the donation of the Paramount Pictures Nitrate Print Library, which included almost all of the sound films the studio had produced between 1930 and 1950. This was soon followed by important acquisitions from all the major U.S. studios: Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Republic Pictures.


The Archive made two bold strokes: launching its preservation and restoration program with the hiring of Robert Gitt, soon restoring titles such as Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), Josef von Sternberg's Blonde Venus (1932), Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep (1946) and Frank Borzage's Moonrise (1948); and an expansion of its campus film programming for the general public. The Archive became renowned for its presentation of Hollywood classics, documentaries, contemporary independent productions and cutting edge works of international cinema.

1980s - 1990s: Expansion and Acclaim


The Archive became the permanent home to one of the most compelling and significant historical resources of the 20th century, the extensive Hearst Metrotone News Collection newsreels that consist of more than 27 million feet (5,000 hours) of footage, documenting the fabric of life from 1915-1975. The Archive provides footage from this collection to numerous films, television programs, museum exhibitions and other projects every year.


The Archive restored Becky Sharp (1935), the first three-color Technicolor feature.


The Archive staged its first UCLA Festival of Preservation, inviting the public to screenings of the Archive’s recent restoration work.  The festival spans the entire history of moving images, showcasing silents, classic Hollywood features, television programs, rarely-seen newsreels, documentaries and contemporary independents—many works that were once lost or damaged.  The festival inaugurated its first North American tour in 2009. “No other event in the country so consistently illuminates the irresistible hidden treasures of America’s movie heritage, putting a spotlight on drop-dead fascinating items unseen in decades, and difficult to see after the festival.”—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.


The Archive opened its Archive Research and Study Center (ARSC) in UCLA's Powell Library. ARSC provides free access to more than 10,000 collection items each year. Hundreds of books, films, plays, articles and scholarly writings have been researched through ARSC.

The Archive was awarded an Emmy Plaque for the restorations of An Evening with Fred Astaire (10/17/58), Another Evening with Fred Astaire (11/4/59) and Astaire Time (9/28/60), which “exhibit a high level of engineering and are important to the progress of the industry.”

At the start of the 1990s, the Archive launched its annual UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema, the first showcase for new Iranian films in the United States. In a public access milestone, the Archive became one of the first major moving image archives to make its catalog records searchable online. And it established the Sundance Collection at UCLA to provide longterm access to independent productions, by having Sundance-selected filmmakers voluntarily place copies of their work at UCLA. This collection is one part of a multi-faceted plan for preserving and exhibiting independent cinema, and restoration projects have included Efraín Gutiérrez's Chicano Love is Forever (1977), Robert Epstein's The Times of Harvey Milk (1984) and films by Kenneth Anger. Closing the decade, the Archive acquired the Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, providing the Archive with its first in-house lab capabilities.

New Millennium and New Initiatives

In the 2000s, the Archive won further accolades for its restorations of independent works by John Cassavetes, Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, 1977) and Kent Mackenzie (The Exiles, 1961). The latter two restorations won Film Heritage Awards from the National Society of Film Critics.  


The National Society of Film Critics presented a Special Citation to the Archive “for its long-lived and heroic work in film preservation, restoration and resurrection, including its recent rehabilitation of rehearsal and test footage from director Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955).”  The Archive later received another Film Heritage Award for its restoration of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes (1948).


The Archive began expanding its outreach by entering into the DVD market. In collaboration with S'more Entertainment, it released the first 26 episodes and the original pilot of the 1950s television series Mister Peepers, starring Wally Cox. The release marked the first time that series had been seen anywhere since airing on broadcast television over 50 years ago and a second box set followed.

The Archive's eclectic public programs included the highly successful Heroic Grace: The Chinese Martial Arts Film retrospective, which screened in Los Angeles before touring more than 20 venues and film festivals in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

The Archive partnered with Outfest to create the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBTQ Film Preservation, the largest publicly accessible collection of LGBTQ+ films in the wold. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association presented the Archive a Legacy of Cinema award for the Project and its restoration of Bill Sherwood's Parting Glances (1986).


Thanks to a $5 million donation by Audrey L. Wilder, in December 2006 the Archive moved its public screenings to a new venue, the Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles' Westwood Village. It is among a handful of venues nationwide able to exhibit an entire century's worth of moving images in their original formats.


Thanks to an extraordinary and ongoing partnership with The Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) and David Woodley Packard, the Archive's nitrate film holdings were moved to a new state-of the-art vault facility in Santa Clarita, California. The new vault was the first phase in a plan to build a fully developed preservation center with additional vaults for UCLA’s entire collection, as well as laboratories, workrooms and theaters with fiber-optic connections to UCLA.


The Archive launched the new decade with two major honors: the Special Medallion from the Telluride Film Festival, which recognizes "a hero of cinema—an organization or individual—that preserves, honors and presents great movies;" as well as a 24-hour showcase on Turner Classic Movies featuring "the extraordinary restoration and remastering work conducted by the Archive."

In conjunction with the UCLA Moving Image Archive Studies program and the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel in France, the Archive staged its first international academic symposium in November 2010, "Reimagining the Archive: Remapping and Remixing Traditional Models in the Digital Era." This gathering at UCLA featured presentations by academics and professionals from three continents, examining the ways the digital era has impacted the evolution of archival practice, technology and research. 

The Archive and Shout! Factory released The Ultimate Goldbergs, featuring re-mastered versions of 71 episodes of the landmark television series The Goldbergs, written, produced and directed by Gertrude Berg.


Moving into the digital paradigm, the Archive launched a new website, which for the first time allowed the streaming of moving image content, and acquired several digital restoration suites, scanners, and other equipment that allow the Archive to restore select titles digitally. 

The Archive established the Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund, allowing the general public to contribute directly to the restoration of the duo's comedic treasures. The Archive's efforts to restore all its surviving negatives has been met with resounding support from Laurel & Hardy fans around the world and great progress continues to be made. 

Additionally, the Archive presented the groundbreaking film exhibition L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema, as part of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980” cultural initiative. L.A Rebellion introduced the collective work of a group of African and African American filmmakers who attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in the 1970s and1980s.  These filmmakers came to represent the first sustained undertaking to forge an alternative Black Cinema practice in the United States. More than 50 representative works ranging from well-known films securely in the canon to the obscure were screened, many for the first time since film school. Many of the newly restored and preserved prints traveled nationwide as a touring program that commenced in September 2012.


The Archive becomes the home of In the Life, television’s longest running LGBTQ+ news magazine.


50 Year Milestone


Throughout 2015, the Archive feted its 50th anniversary with a look back at some of its most culturally and historically significant preservation and restoration projects. This included screenings of films by Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Borzage, Dorothy Arzner and Rob Epstein, treasures from the television collection, and a parade of restored classics

The Archive invited archivists, academics and media producers from around the country to participate in "This is the City: Preserving Moving Images of Los Angeles," a two-day symposium exploring the lost history and landscapes of L.A.

As part of its ongoing commitment to preserving LGBT media, the Archive launched the In the Life online resource, which provides free access to more than 190 episodes of America's first and longest-running national LGBTQ+ series.

In July, Turner Classic Movies presented a special on-air tribute to the Archive, featuring such notable restorations as Her Sister's Secret (1946), The Night of the Hunter (1955), Wanda (1971) and a selection of rarely-seen shorts.

To commemorate the Archive's 50 years of pioneering work in film preservation, the Los Angeles City Council officially declared December 4, 2015 "UCLA Film & Television Archive Day in Los Angeles."


In the spring, the Academy Film Archive and UCLA Film & Television Archive had the honor of hosting the international film archival community for the 73rd FIAF Congress. This six-day event included a symposium on Spanish-language cinema in Hollywood, film screenings, archive tours and the Federation’s annual General Assembly.

As part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an initiative of the Getty, the Archive launched Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930-1960, an extensive retrospective of Spanish-language films from Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and Hollywood.  Screening at the Billy Wilder Theater and the Downtown Independent, the series featured new prints and restorations undertaken by the Archive and supporting institutions. Years in the making, this project also involved a landmark partnership with the Cinemateca de Cuba—a national film archive that has not previously collaborated with a U.S. cultural institution.


New Leadership and a New Home at the UCLA Library


In July, as part of a larger gift to UCLA, the Archive received a $10 million endowment dedicated to the programming and preservation of television. The gift was made possible by the late philanthropist Patricia W. Mitchell as a way to honor the legacy of her late husband, noted television industry leader John H. Mitchell.

In October, the Archive became a part of the world-class UCLA Library, which shares the mission of preserving historically and culturally important materials. The move to the Library from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television positions the Archive’s holdings to be better integrated in teaching and learning at UCLA and supported through the Library’s robust digital resources.

The Archive continues to build on its rich, decades-long history across all academic programs and centers at UCLA through collaborations, student engagement through coursework, research support, and professional training opportunities. 


May Hong HaDuong was appointed director of the Archive in February, becoming the fourth director since the organization’s founding in 1965. An alumna of UCLA (M.A., 2006, Moving Image Archive Studies), HaDuong previously served as senior manager of public access at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and project manager for the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBTQ Moving Image Preservation.


The Archive launched the Get Used to It (1992-2012) project, providing free online access to all 177 episodes of the LGBTQ+ public affairs talk show. The series, hosted by Sheila James Kuehl, the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California Legislature, brought together advocates and allies for thoughtful conversations around issues affecting LGBTQ+ communities.


In April, the Archive hosted the first-ever all-television edition of New York University’s renowned Orphan Film Symposium, featuring presentations by more than 20 scholars, artists and archivists. Co-curated by symposium founder Dan Streible and John H. Mitchell Television Curator Mark Quigley, the two-day program showcased rare and underseen television works from numerous archives and universities, including UCLA, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian.