National Film Preservation
Frequently Asked Questions About the National Film Registry
What is the National Film Registry?
It is a list of films deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant" that are earmarked for preservation by the Library of Congress. These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.
Who set up the National Film Registry and why?
Congress passed a bill that "prohibits any person from knowingly distributing or exhibiting to the public a film that has been materially altered, or a black and white film that has been colorized and is included in the Registry, unless such films are labeled disclosing specified information."
Who selects the films on the Registry?
The Librarian of Congress makes the annual selections to the Registry after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB).
Can the public participate?
Absolutely! In fact you’re encouraged to submit your nominations each year. Click here to find out how.
Do many people nominate films to the Registry?
For the 2012 Registry, we received 2,600 emails nominating nearly 3,200 discrete titles for a total of 22,500 public votes. Our website features nearly 3,500 titles not yet named to the Registry here. There are doubtless hundreds, maybe even thousands more. Email additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have all of the Registry films been preserved?
The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress works with the studios, independent filmmakers, other archives, museums and historical societies to secure the best available film elements of each Registry title. These elements are conserved under the best possible physical conditions i.e. low temperature and low humidity at the Library. In some cases, the films have already been preserved by a studio, filmmaker or archive.
Does the Library of Congress own the films on the Registry?