For researchers, documentarians, military veterans — or just about anyone who wants to get an up-close, real-life glimpse at what the major wars of the United States looked like on a day-to-day basis — the United States Marine Corps film repository in the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collection could be the next best thing to being there, and it will soon be as close as your computer.
On May 25, the university officially cut the ribbon on the collection’s Lt. Col. James H. Davis Film Vault and the John S. Davis Scanning Center, which together will allow USC to both store and digitize 18,000 films, totaling some 1,800 hours, documenting Marine Corps operations from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as peacetime training and public relations activities. Over the next two years, this archive will gradually become permanently available on the internet.
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The vault and scanning center are the first large gifts MIRC has received in support of its U.S. Marine Corps Film Repository project, in which MIRC, in partnership with the History Division at Marine Corps University in Quantico, will steward, save and share a collection of 18,000 historic films documenting 20th century Corps operations.
The collection consists of 1,800 hours of 16 and 35mm film footage of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, as well as peacetime films of training, testing and public relations activities. Most of the films have never been seen by the public.
In 2015 the History Division at Marine Corps University approached MIRC to preserve, digitize and share the film collection that has been stored at Quantico for decades. MIRC is one of the largest and most respected academic film and video archives in the country. Its holdings of rare and historically relevant film are used by well-known documentary filmmakers, historians and scholars worldwide.
“We are doing this because we want to extend our expertise to the Marine Corps as our way of saying thank you for all the Marines do for every American, every day,” said Dean McNally. “We never had a doubt that there would be individuals and groups who would support what we are trying to do.”
Also in attendance at the event were representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps Film Repository Blue Ribbon Committee, including its newest member, Medal of Honor recipient Major General James Livingston, Marine Corps University History Division, Parris Island Historical and Museum Society, South Carolina Marine Corps League H.E. “Speedy” Wilson Detachment, South Carolina Military Museum, South Carolina National Guard, Columbia Chamber, and multiple USC colleges, schools and organizations, who are all working with USC Libraries to raise awareness and support for the project.
MIRC will ultimately develop a freely accessible, online digital film library that students, researchers, historians, veterans and their families can not only watch, but also contribute information to, forming a permanent, crowdsourced repository of Marine Corps history.
MIRC is seeking to raise $2 million to fund the purchase of additional technology, hire staff and provide ongoing support to meet the project goals. The collection will be scanned, digitized and made available online as donations are received.
See Also: MIRC Online Digital Repository (Search and Browse)