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In 1969, the Library of Congress began courting GEORGE RONY to encourage a donation of his documentary film library for the National Film Archives. The Acquisitions Manager of the National Film Collection sent him the following assurance:

"The Library of Congress is the custodian and administrator of the National Film Collection of the United States, and it guarantees the careful preservation in perpetuity of all film accepted for custody." (July 8, 1969)

George Rony's grandson, Alexander, reviews a Background to Battle kinescope at the Library of Congress.

At the time of his passing in December 1971, GEORGE RONY's film collection was in the temporary custody of the L.A. County Art Museum under the auspices of the UCLA Film Archives, while funds were sought to transfer the footage from nitrate stock to safety film. The American Film Institute and the Library of Congess expressed their interest in undertaking this project.

GEORGE RONY's heirs were assured that funds "have been allocated by the American Film Institute to accomplish this perservation." (September 14, 1973). The Assistant Curator of Film for the L.A. County Art Museum proposed that physical possession of the films be transferred to the American Film Institute, on behalf of the Library of Congress, so that the preservation effort could get underway.

Again reminded that "Several of the films in the collection are showing extreme signs of deterioration, and unless they are copied immediately will be lost" (November 26, 1974), ELLEN RONY authorized the transfer. On March 2, 1975, the George Rony Film Collection was released from the L.A. County Art Museum to be permanently deposited with the Library of Congress. premised upon several understandings:

  • The nitrate footage was perishable, and preservation was needed immediately;
  • The American Film Institute had the funds to accomplish the preservation;
  • The George Rony Film Collection would be housed in the Library of Congress and would be made available for educational study and non-commercial use;
  • A full set of prints of the Background to Battle television series would be returned to the heirs;
  • George Rony's heirs would have access to the films at any time.

The Library of Congress database of the Rony Collection lists 931 film items which include the original nitrate reels as well as the acetate conversions made between 1974 and 1990. Priority conversion currently is determined by periodic inspection for deterioration. The task of preservation needs to be completed.

GEORGE RONY's son and daughter have proposed an action plan to the Library of Congess to complete the preservation of the George Rony Film Collection within a reasonable time frame. In 2007 the Library of Congress moved its film storage to a facility in Culpeper, Virginia. The prestigious Library of Congress now has the technical means and opportunity to complete the pledges made three decades ago that this historical film library would be preserved. Proper storage may have bought the Library of Congress time, but the long delay has put this important film heritage at risk of being permanently lost, notwithstanding that the educational study of the footage has been unavailable during the three ensuing decades.

Although the Library of Congress now houses the entire George Rony Film Collection, including home footage of RONY's infant son taken in Portugal in 1940, his daughter has retained all the correspondence, articles, scripts, transcripts, diaries, teleprompter rolls, bank receipts, notes, publicity materials, carbon drafts and clippings associated with her father's professional work. She has begun reviewing this documentation to uncover the much sought after provenance of this historic film library. By following the extensive paper trail, it is hoped that the GEORGE RONY's lifetime film legacy which the Library of Congress accepted for the National Archives will be finally and completely preserved on safety stock and available for future generations of historians to learn from.

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