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WSU has one of the three largest public collections in the U.S. of films from the RKO studio. A total of 436 feature films and 27 military documentaries from World War II were donated by the family of J. Elroy McCaw in 1982. RKO was a major filmmaker from 1928 to 1957.

The films, which have been shown in classes periodically over the last 20 years, now are being digitized. And three of the military documentaries have been posted on the Internet so anyone can view them.

The three films are available at

(If the characters in the photo above appear familiar, there’s a good reason. Left is Ginger Rogers, behind the wheel Henry Travers, “Clarence” in “It’s a Wonderful life.”)

“Digitizing the films will preserve them, since every use of the film causes some deterioration,” explained Alex Merrill, WSU digital initiatives librarian. “Digitizing also will make the films more accessible, through DVDs or on the Internet.”

Not all the digitized films will be publicly available on the Internet, Merrill added. The feature films still are under copyright and cannot be distributed freely. All the military documentaries are not copyrighted and Merrill expects to post them at the website.

The copyrighted films may be posted on the Internet later for campus use only, he said.

For now, you can relive World War II through the following three military documentaries posted on the website mentioned above:

* To Win the Peace
* Voice of Truth
* Who Died?

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