About this Collection

Work, school, and leisure activities in the United States from 1894 to 1915 are featured in this presentation of 150 motion pictures. Highlights include films of the United States Postal Service from 1903, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, calisthenic and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events.

America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915 consists of 150 motion pictures, 62 of which also appear in other online collections. The majority of the films are from the Paper Print Collection, while the remainder are from the George Kleine Collection, both residing in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (M/B/RS) of the Library of Congress. Both of these collections have printed catalogs available in the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room at the Library. The films were selected from these two collections on the basis of the activities pictured in the films and the quality of the available prints. As many different types of work, school, and leisure activities as could be found were sought in order to show the broadest possible representation of activities at the turn of the century. The selection is limited, however, by what is available from these collections; not every possible occupation or leisure activity from the turn of the century is represented.

The films in the Paper Print Collection were deposited for copyright from 1894 to 1912 as positive pictures on paper. Many were deposited in this manner on paper rolls frame by frame. For preservation and access purposes, the Library of Congress has made 16mm prints of these Paper Print titles, and has more recently been making 35mm prints of selected titles. For this presentation, 35mm and 16mm prints have been used as the original source material for digitization. Many of the 35mm prints have been produced especially for this Web presentation.

The George Kleine Collection consists of films obtained by film distributor and producer George Kleine. The collection includes films produced from 1898 to 1926, representing films by the Edison Company, French and Italian imports, and those produced by Kleine. The collection contains both 35mm and 16mm prints.

Links to films in other online collections, such as Inside an American Factory: The Westinghouse Works, 1904; The Last Days of a President: McKinley and the Pan-American Exposition; and Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies are also in the presentation to add further diversity to the films listed.

The online collection offers films available in MPEG, QuickTime, and RealMedia formats. In the case of the first two formats, films are segmented when longer than four minutes so that file sizes will not be prohibitively large to download.