January 23, 2022

Acquisitions: U-Michigan Acquires Archive of Filmmaker John Sayles

From the U. of Michigan News Service:

Perhaps more than any modern filmmaker, John Sayles personifies American individualism. From his 1979 directorial debut “Return of the Secaucus 7” to his forthcoming release “Go for Sisters,” he has thrived outside the Hollywood mainstream, using his films to explore such complex, nuanced themes as race, class and gender identity.


Critics say Sayles is a true iconoclast who sees film as a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Now, thanks to a gift to the University of Michigan Library, documents, images and props illuminating Sayles’ vast body of work will be made available to researchers in the John Sayles Archive at the Special Collections Library.

The gift was announced Tuesday at U-M President Mary Sue Coleman’s annual Leadership Breakfast where she highlights the university’s accomplishments and announces key initiatives going forward.


The Sayles acquisition complements U-M collections documenting the careers of American filmmakers Orson Welles and Robert Altman. With the Sayles collection, U-M is a major destination for research on the American maverick filmmaker.


Sayles’ films themselves are housed at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The U-M collection includes scripts, production documents, legal documents, photographs, storyboards and correspondence regarding such films as “Matewan,” “Brother from Another Planet,” “The Secret of Roan Inish” and more. There are personal journals and notebooks, business records and props. Also included are manuscripts of some of Sayles’ novels, short stories and plays. The archive even showcases his uncredited work as a writer on such films as “Apollo 13.”

Read More About the Sayles, the Collection, and the University of Michigan Special Collections Library

See Also: Finding Aids For Orson Wells Papers and Other Holding

See Also: Symposium celebrates the Robert Altman collection at U-M
This event took place in June 2013.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.