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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jimerson, Randall C.

Second Advisor

Kurtz, Tony, 1965-

Third Advisor

Askari, Kaveh


Governments have created and used motion picture films since soon after their invention, but government archivists have an uneasy relationship with films. Historically, the traditional archival literature has overlooked films in favor of a focus on textual records, while the film archive literature is unconcerned with the archival concept of the record. To define the scope of the problem, this thesis demonstrates the paucity of archival literature addressing motion picture film as a government record. Moving forward, motion pictures are examined through a lens of archival theory and set in their rightful place among other formats of government records. It is concluded that while films must be read differently than textual records, they provide evidence, information, memory, and other affordances as found in other record formats. Finally, the thesis explores the properties that must be maintained as a film record is migrated to digital formats in order to ensure that it remains a valid record. It is argued that failing to create an authentic digital record during preservation digitization of a film is the same as deaccessioning the film record from the archival collection. Government archivists have a responsibility to carry out a thorough and documented reappraisal process before such actions may be taken.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Motion pictures--Archival resources--Management; Documentary films--United States--Management; Filmstrips--United States--Archival resources--Management; Film archives--Management; Appraisal of archival materials; Public records--United States--Management; Archival materials--Digitization

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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