The archives at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center are a cinephile’s dream. The research library boasts a massive collection of roughly 10,000 vintage movie posters that date back to the 1920s. And now, as Kottke.org highlights, the center is digitizing the collection to make it available online so that anyone can see and download items from it.
As of right now, 4000 of the posters have been digitized, and the collection is slowly becoming available online. The posters date back to the earliest days of the film industry, and in their physical form, they range between small 14-inch-by-22-inch window cards to 20-foot-long billboards. Many come from the Interstate Theater Circuit, a theater chain that at one point encompassed nearly every movie theater in Texas. As a result, much of the collection held at UT Austin is from the 1940s through the 1970s, the heyday of Interstate’s reign over Texas theaters. Films of the ‘50s and ‘60s are especially well represented. There are also plenty of B-movie posters courtesy of Philip Sills, a poster dealer who donated his collection to the university in the 1960s.
The entirety of the Ransom Center collection won’t be available online for a while, because the process involves more than just scanning the original material. Each poster has to be carefully set up and photographed in high resolution and its metadata entered into the database. The center expects to be digitizing for at least the next year, and possibly into 2019.
For now, there are 500 posters available to view online and download in high resolution.
Browse for yourself here.