History of the Archive

In 1965, the Motion Picture Association of America copied some of the accumulated document archive of its predecessor organization, the MPPDA, onto microfilm, and disposed of the original documents. The archive was then stored in the MPAA's New York offices, where it was largely unavailable to researchers.

In 1984, while on an American Council of Learned Societies' Scholarship to study the origins of the Motion Picture Production Code, Richard Maltby gained permission from Jack Valenti to access the archive in New York. Through the good offices of James Bouras and Carolyn Stein, he was allowed to make a copy of twelve reels, covering the period from 1922 to 1939, for further study. He subsequently alerted Sam Gill and Barbara Hall, Archivists of the Special Collections Department of the Centre for Motion Picture Study of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to the existence of the archive, and they invited the MPAA to donate the records to the Special Collections Department of the Academy's Centre for Motion Picture Study. By the time the donation took place, however, several of the microfilm reels, including those covering the 1920s, had been misplaced, and have not subsequently been recovered. The copies taken by Richard Maltby are, therefore, the only surviving copies of the majority of the material in this archive.