History of the Educational Film Collection

The Moving Image Archives’ Educational Film Collection began before WWII as an outreach service of the Indiana University Extension Division. By 1945 it had nearly 500 films that were rented out for low fees ($.50 - $5.00) to schools, colleges, universities, public libraries, clubs and organizations throughout the United States. Under the direction of L.C. Larson, the collection grew to tens of thousands of 16mm films, [1970 catalog: 8,798 titles] and became one of the largest of such services, most of which were based in major universities. Indiana University provided leadership in best practices for such collections, and faculty and graduate students in the Department of Instructional Systems Technology in the School of Education collaborated with the staff of what soon became the IU Audio-Visual Center (later the Center for Media and Teaching Resources, and finally Instructional Support Services). In the late 1970’s, the Audio-Visual Center, along with many similar organizations, started purchasing and renting videocassettes (3/4” U-matic and ½” VHS) instead of the much more expensive 16mm films. However, the film collection continued to circulate, and most of the films were not discarded with the changeover in format. The ease of duplicating videos (legally or illegally) spelled the demise of the pooled resource model, and many university-based rental centers closed during the 1990’s. In 2006 Indiana University decided to close its rental service, and the collection of about 50,000 reels of 16mm film and 7,000 videos came under the aegis of the IU Library System. The 16mm films in this collection date from as early as 1929 into the 1970’s; there is strong representation in anthropology, dance, African-American studies, and psychology. The Audio-Visual Center was the exclusive distributor of films produced by NET (National Educational Television, the predecessor to PBS). About 1,000 films were produced by the AVC’s own staff, with consultation by IU faculty, including exemplary microbiology and anatomy series.


Collection Description for the Educational Film Collection

The Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive contains one of the largest Educational 16mm collections still in existence today. The collection is now available for research and educational purposes. Recognizing the important, historic value of this unique collection, the Libraries Moving Image Archive has made efforts to preserve the films and improve access to them. The Archive collection holds approximately 48,000 16mm educational and documentary films dating from 1911 to the 1980s.



  • Social Adjustment and Personal Hygiene, 1940s-60s Intended mainly for elementary and junior high classroom use, addressing social issues such as dating and providing guidance on manners and appropriate behavior in various social situations.
  • Industrial Skills and Career Guidance, 1940s-70s Career and workplace training films, including titles such as "The Secretary: A Normal Day" (1966) and a large series on machine shop work made in 1947 by Castle Films.
  • TFC (Teaching Film Custodians), 1940-62 Several hundred titles edited from feature films to provide approximately30-minute abridgments with educational content suitable to classroom use, mainly on historical subjects such as Brigham Young, Emile Zola, and Benjamin Disraeli.
  • Handicap Collection, 1960s and 70s Approximately 400 captioned versions of elementary curriculum films.
  • NET College Level Course Series, 1950s-1970sCollege-level courses ranging from 60 to 160 lessons, on physics, chemistry, economics, mathematics and biology, including "Probability and Statistics" taught by Frederick Mosteller (1962).
  • Language Education Series (1960s-1970s) Introductory and intermediate level Spanish, French, and German.
  • Anthropology and Culture, 1930s-1960s, Anthropological films on American Indians and Eskimos, some as early as the late 1930s. Also elementary-level introductions to children in other countries and cultures.



  • World War II Propaganda,1940s From the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Nationalist China.
  • Race Relations, early 1960s Produced by NET, dealing with racial tensions in the U.S., with titles such as "The Negro and the American Promise" and "Heritage of the Negro."
  • Movie Screens of the Air, 1940s-50s 15-minute newsreels with stories about the Korean War and other international news, as well as national news and features such as beauty pageants.
  • United Nations Films, 1940s-50s Feature UN programs and news on international development. 10-12 minutes each.
  • CBS "You Are There" Series, 1950s-60s Historical reenactments of events and people such as sinking of the Titanic, Patrick Henry, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, and Socrates.
  • "Community of the Condemned" A series of 26 programs made in 1959 on the theory and practice of penal institutions.



  • Music, 1940s-60s Performances by famous musicians such as Oistrakh, Piatigorsky, Toscanini,Heifetz, and Bernstein, including 25 master classes by Pablo Casals(1961). Also includes series on the general introduction to classical music, such as the Young People's Concert series produced by CBS in the1950s and 60s.
  • "Heritage" series, late 1950s A large series of 30-minute programs featuring interviews with Robert Frost, Harold Urey, Henry Steele Commanger, Dame Edith Sitwell, Ernst Von Dohnanyi, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Bruce Catton.
  • Indiana University Promotion, 1938-1970 sProduced to promote Indiana University. Sample titles: "IU Goes to War"(1943) and "Your Daughter at I.U." (1953).
  • Indiana High School Athletic Association, 1947-1979. Basketball, football, and track and field competitions, as well as officiating rules. Indiana High School Athletic Association is a nonprofit organization formed in 1903 to encourage amateur high school athletics.