Welcome to Rick Prelinger and Prelinger Archives' almost-all-text website. This site contains both current and historical information; current information is at the top of this page.

Rick Prelinger (brief biography)
Rick Prelinger is an archivist, filmmaker, writer and educator. He began collecting "ephemeral films" (films made for specific purposes at specific times, such as advertising, educational and industrial films) in 1983. His collection of 60,000 films was acquired by Library of Congress in 2002. Beginning in 2000, he partnered with Internet Archive to make a subset of the Prelinger Collection (now over 8,500 films) available online for free viewing, downloading and reuse. His archival feature Panorama Ephemera (2004) played in venues around the world, and his feature project No More Road Trips? received a Creative Capital grant in 2012. His 26 Lost Landscapes participatory urban history projects have played to many thousands of viewers in San Francisco, Detroit, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere. He is a board member of Internet Archive and frequently writes and speaks on the future of archives. With Megan Prelinger, he co-founded Prelinger Library in 2004. He is currently Chair and Professor of Film & Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Many of my films are viewable online. Here's a list, from oldest to newest:

Panorama Ephemera (2004)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 3 (2008) (documentation of live presentation at Cowell Theatre, San Francisco)
Lost Landscapes of Detroit (2010)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 5 (2010) (documentation of live presentation at Internet Archive)
Lost Landscapes of Detroit 2 (2011)
Lost Landscapes of Detroit 3 (2012)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 6 (2011) (documentation of live presentation at Internet Archive)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 7 (2012)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 8 (2013)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 8 (2013) (documentation of live presentation at Internet Archive)
No More Road Trips? (2013)
Yesterday and Tomorrow in Detroit (2014)
Lost Landscapes of Oakland (2014)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 9 (2014)
Yesterday and Tomorrow in Detroit (2015)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 10 (2015)
All-Is-Well (2016)
Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles (2016)
Lost Landscapes of New York (2017)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 11 (2016)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 12 (2017)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 13 (2018)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 13 (2018) (documentation of live presentation at Internet Archive)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 13 was presented along with a new 4K scan of the legendary film A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire (1906), available here. I suggest watching the 2.5 GB version.
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 14 (December 2019)
Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles (December 14, 2019), documentation of my live presentation of the new Los Angeles film (still a work in progress) at Los Angeles Public Library.
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 15 (December 2020)
Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 15 (December 2020) (replayable with reconstruction of live chat from premiere)

Useful Prophecies: An Archival Compilation, made for the opening night of the Punto De Vista Festival, (Pamplona/Iruñea), March 11, 2019

My essay "Archives of Inconvenience" appears in the new (August 2019) volume of the In Search of Media series, a collaboration between Meson Press and University of Minnesota Press. Link to open-access PDF and ordering information for print version.

Some of my recent lectures and presentations are here.

A full CV/resume is here.

Prelinger Archives is now a collection consisting of approximately 17,000 home movies; 2,000 "useful" films (advertising, educational and industrial films); and several thousand cans of miscellaneous unedited footage. Most material that has been digitized is available online.

8,596 films from Prelinger Archives are online at the Internet Archive. More are frequently added.

Prelinger Archives actively collects home movie material (35mm, 16mm, Super 8, 8mm and other film formats) and is pleased to connect with families and individuals who may have materials to donate to the archives. We can be reached via email at the address at the bottom of this page.

Access to Prelinger Archives
We are committed to providing public access to our digital film materials. Over 8,596 films are available for viewing, downloading and (in many cases) reuse from Internet Archive. Reuse is allowed pursuant to the Creative Commons license (if any) shown on the film's detail page. Creative Commons-licensed material is available for reuse without any charge, and no permission is required.

If you wish highest-quality material to use in a film, television program or other media project, or if you require a written license agreement, you may contact Getty Images, who represents us for stock footage sales.

In search of archival or stock footage? Please look at our Archives FAQ here first.

Prelinger Archives: Active Film Collection Title List (rev. April 20, 2019)

Prelinger Library, co-founded with Megan Prelinger in 2004, is an appropriation-friendly collection of books, periodicals and print ephemera, open to the public in downtown San Francisco.

The following pages are included for historical interest (2001-2015)

Blackoystercatcher blog (presently inactive)

Upcoming Events (not current, shown for historical value)

View or download Panorama Ephemera (2004), a feature-length collage film

News of Panorama Ephemera

My "Points of Origin" piece, published in The Moving Image 9 (No. 2, 2009) here:

Prelinger Collection Acquired by Library of Congress

The Landscape Coin Project and my spouse Megan Shaw Prelinger's website

What's New (updated 14 July 2004; my blog is much more current)

Archives FAQ (updated October 2008)
Approximately 8,596 Prelinger titles presently available for free viewing and downloading from Internet Archive.
Access to Products
Intellectual Property Issues
About Ephemeral Films

Watch the Prelinger Archives official orientation video:

Public Domain Dedication
The work referred to below is in the Public Domain.

View or download This Is Prelinger Archives (2001)
Producer: Prelinger (Rick)
Sponsor: Prelinger Archives
Official Prelinger Archives corporate video, describing its contents and mission. With excerpts of many films in the collection and rare scenes shot inside the New York vaults.
Descriptors: Motion pictures: Ephemeral;  Motion pictures: Archives;  Prelinger Archives
Run time: 10:45   Color/B&W: B&W/C   Silent/Sound: Sd

Contact information:
Rick Prelinger
Prelinger Archives
P.O. Box 590622
San Francisco, CA 94159-0622

CV (downloadable PDF)

January 17, 2021