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USC dedicates new vault and scanning center for Marine Corps film collection

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina (USC) Pres. Harris Pastides and USC’s Dean of Libraries Thomas McNally dedicated the University’s new film-vault and scanning center for USC’s recently acquired Marine Corps film collection during “ribbon cutting” ceremonies at the USC Libraries’ Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) facility in Columbia, Thursday.

The 2,000-square-ft. cold-storage vault constructed inside the MIRC building on the University campus, houses USC’s recently acquired Marine Corps film collection. And curators, film experts and volunteers in the new scanning center, also in the facility, are working to digitize the vast archival collection.

Entrusted to MIRC from the Marine Corps History Division based in Quantico, Virginia, the films document the history of the U.S. Marine Corps during the 20th century from about 1919 through the end of the Vietnam War.

Approximately 3,000 of the 18,000 reels – all 16mm and 35mm celluloid on reels totaling 1,800 hours of footage – have already been delivered to MIRC and are currently housed in the new vault. “We hope to have the remaining reels by the end of this year,” said Greg Wilsbacher, MIRC’s curator for the U.S. Marine Corps Film Repository.

The films feature U.S. Marines in action during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as wartime and peacetime Marine Corps training, large-scale military exercises, equipment testing, and various recruiting and public relations activities.

Thursday’s dedications – one each for the Lt. Col. James H. Davis Film Vault and the John S. Davis Scanning Center – were attended by numerous VIPs, university officials, MIRC staff, members of MIRC’s U.S. Marine Corps Film Repository’s Blue Ribbon Committee, the deputy director of the Marine Corps History Division, representatives of the various U.S. armed forces, veterans, supporters and others.

[Pictured above are L-R Mrs. Patricia J. Moore-Pastides, USC’s first lady; retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, recipient of the Medal of Honor; Ms. Susan Marlowe, Patriots Point Development Authority boardmember; Dr. Harris Pastides; and the Honorable Bill Bethea, chairman of the S.C. Military Base Task Force.].

“We are doing this because we want to extend our expertise to the Marine Corps as our way of saying thank you to all the Marines for what they do for every American every day,” said McNally. “We never had a doubt that there would be individuals and groups who would support what we are trying to do.”

Longtime university supporters Richard and Novelle Smith funded the vault and scanning center, both named in honor of Mrs. Smith’s cousins, the late James and John Davis.

MIRC is seeking to raise $2-million to fund additional technologies, hire needed staff and provide support to meet goals associated with the Marine Corps film collection, and to make the collection available to the public.

The Marine Corps History Division is a branch of the Marine Corps University. The division selected USC because of MIRC’s recognized expertise in film preservation and restoration. MIRC is one of the largest “and most respected” academic film and video repositories in the nation. Among MIRC’s holdings is the Fox Movietone News Collection, approximately 2,000 hours of silent and sound films documenting national and global events from 1919 through 1934 and, through the war years, from 1942 through 1944. [See http://library.sc.edu/p/Collections/MIRC/About for listing of MIRC’s collections.]

For more information, visit http://library.sc.edu/marinecorps.

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