Library of Congress > Collections with Film and Videos > Origins of American Animation


The development of early American animation is represented by this collection of 21 animated films and 2 fragments, which spans the years 1900 to 1921. The films include clay, puppet, and cut-out animation, as well as pen drawings. They point to a connection between newspaper comic strips and early animated films, as represented by Keeping Up With the Joneses, Krazy Kat, and The Katzenjammer Kids. As well as showing the development of animation, these films also reveal the social attitudes of early twentieth-century America.

Digitizing the Collection

The films included in Origins of American Animation were taken from several collections in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. These include the Paper Print, American Film Institute/J. Stuart Blackton, A.F.I./Maurice Zouary, A.F.I./Frederick Edell, A.F.I./George Marshall, A.F.I./Dennis Atkinson, A.F.I./James Ashton, A.F.I./Rhode Island Historical Society, A.F.I./Thomas Souder, A.F.I./Bernard Uhl, Louise Ernst, George Kleine, and Cinémathèque Québécoise Collections. These films were previously released in 1994 as a videotape by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution under the title Origins of American Animation, 1900-1921.

The motion pictures used for the original videotape presentation were taken from 35mm and 16mm prints and transferred to D2 composite digital videotape. For this American Memory presentation, a BetaSp videotape copy was made from the D2 master, and the BetaSp copy was digitized by Crawford Multimedia in Atlanta, Georgia.

The motion pictures chosen for digitization were all black-and-white and silent. A piano score written and performed by Philip Carli has been added to these films and is not part of the original motion picture. The original motion pictures were shot with hand-cranked cameras at varying frame rates, generally at 22 frames per second (fps). In the video mastering process, the playback speeds were adjusted to present the appearance of natural motion to the greatest degree possible.

The MPEG and Quicktime versions of titles with running times greater than four minutes have been divided into segments to reduce the file sizes to 40 MB or less. A typical 28.8 Internet connection achieves a theoretical maximum download rate of approximately 3.5 KB/sec (210 K/min) under ideal conditions. Therefore, a file of 40 MB would take approximately 190 minutes (3 hours, 10 minutes) in optimal conditions and more likely much longer than that (as much as two to three times depending on Internet traffic load).

Rights and Access

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions.

While the Library is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the materials in the Origins of American Animation, there may be content protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations. The Library is anxious to hear from individuals or institutions that have information about these materials or know of their history.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Users should consult the catalog information that accompanies each item for specific information. This catalog data provides the details known to the Library of Congress regarding the corresponding item and may assist users in making independent assessments of the legal status of these items as related to their desired uses.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division.

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