Our Secret Century
Rick Prelinger
CD ROM Developer and Media Archeologist

April 12, 1996, noon
411 West Engineering Hall (SILS Erlicher Room)

Rick Prelinger, CD ROM developer, media archeologist, and film scholar will discuss his latest project Our Secret Century Vols 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 which will be released this month by the Voyager Company.

Prelinger is famous for his collection of advertisements and instructional films from previous eras that today provide us with campy portrayals of daily life, social habits, and corporate America's vision of the American Dream in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. His hilarious 1992 CDs Ephemeral Films link filmographic information and essays on meaning and context to Quicktime videos of films with titles like What to Do on a Date (weenie roast or taffy pull?), Two-Ford Freedom (a second car will set her free), American Look (choose among many beautiful products), and The Relaxed Wife (tranquilizers).

Our Secret Century continues Prelinger's work in bringing to light hilarious images of our past which serve as odes to an idealized national identity fabricated by institutions and advertising agencies. According to Prelinger, these films "illuminate our understanding of current social issues by broadening access to original and elusive source materials."

Prelinger has single-handedly preserved these beautiful insights into our past; ephemeral items that would have been lost forever without his intervention. As an entrepreneur, he has been able to fund his preservation activities by selling footage to various media for re-purposing. He is also a strong advocate for the concept of fair use, and has testified before congressional commitees on the subject.

co-sponsored by
School of Information
Office of Instructional Technology

View Images of:
Prelinger & his films, Firebird II,
Dick York (the shy guy), Flint Auto Plant