March 1, 1997

Docs on the U.S. National Film Registry

The 1996 additions to the U.S. National Film Registry included four documentaries: The Forgotten Frontier (1931), a film about nursing and healthcare in Kentucky; Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980), focussing on women at work during WW II; Topaz (1943-45), a compilation of home movies from Japanese-American internment camps; and Woodstock (1970), the record of the '60s celebration.

The U.S. Congress established the National Film Preservation Board in 1988, to preserve films deemed important to the nation's culture. Each year, the board selects twenty-five films to add to the Registry. Of the 200 titles on the current list, 21 are documentaries. Other categories include: animation, avant-garde/experimental, comedy, crime drama/film noir, drama, ethnic/independent, fantasy/adventure, historical/epic, horror/suspense, musicals, science fiction, and western.

Librarian of Congress James Billington welcomes public nominations for the National Film Registry. Nominated films must be culturally, historically or aesthetically significant, and at least ten years old. Individuals may nominate up to fifty films for inclusion on the Registry. Nominations must be received by March 30th of each year to be eligible for that round of selections. Nominations should be mailed to: National Film Registry, Library of Congress, M/B/RS Division, Washington, DC 20540. Further information is available from the Registry's web site: http://lcweb.loc.gov/film/.

Documentaries currently included on the National Film Registry are:

  • 1893 BLACKSMITH SCENE. Edison Kinetoscope Company.
  • 1921 MANHATTA. Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler.
  • 1922 NANOOK OF THE NORTH. Robert Flaherty.
  • 1931 THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER. Frontier Nursing Service, Marvin Breckinridge.
  • 1937 THE RIVER. Pare Lorentz.
  • 1938 MARCH OF TIME: INSIDE NAZI GERMANY. Jack Glenn.
  • 1943-45 TOPAZ. Dave Tatsuno.
  • 1944 THE BATTLE OF SAN PIETRO. John Huston.
  • 1944 JAMMIN' THE BLUES. Gjon Mili.
  • 1948 LOUISIANA STORY. Robert Flaherty.
  • 1960 PRIMARY. Drew Associates.
  • 1963 ZAPRUDER FILM. Abraham Zapruder.
  • 1964 POINT OF ORDER. Emile de Antonio.
  • 1968 HIGH SCHOOL. Frederick Wiseman.
  • 1969 SALESMAN. Al bert and David Maysles, with Charlotte Zwerin.
  • 1970 HOSPITAL. Frederick Wiseman.
  • 1970 WOODSTOCK. Michael Wadleigh.
  • 1976 CHULAS FRONTERAS. Les Blank.
  • 1976 HARLAN COUNTY, U.S.A. Barbara Kopple.
  • 1976 TO FLY. Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman.
  • 1980 LIFE AND TIMES OF ROSIE THE RIVETER. Connie Field.

Thanks to National Film Preservation Board members Ben Levin and Betsy McLane and Library of Congress staff member Steve Leggett for information on the Registry.

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