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The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929

by David Pierce

September 2013. 63 pp. $30 (print)
ISBN 978-1-932326-39-0
CLIR pub 158

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Commissioned for and sponsored by the National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress.

The era of the American silent feature film lasted from 1912 until 1929. During that time, filmmakers established the language of cinema, and the motion pictures they created reached a height of artistic sophistication. These films, with their recognizable stars and high production values, spread American culture around the world. Silent feature films disappeared from sight soon after the coming of sound, and many vanished from existence.

This report focuses on those titles that have managed to survive to the present day and represents the first comprehensive survey of the survival of American silent feature films. Mr. Pierce’s findings tell us that only 14% of the feature films produced in the United States during the period 1912–1929 survive in the format in which they were originally produced and distributed, i.e., as complete works on 35mm film. Another 11% survive in full-length foreign versions or on film formats of lesser image quality such as 16mm and other smaller gauge formats.

Mr. Pierce has also created a valuable da­tabase of location information on the archival film holdings identified in the course of his research. See

Creative Commons LicenseThe Survival of American Silent Feature Films:1912-1929 by Council on Library and Information Resources and The Library of Congress is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Print copies of this title are no longer available.

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