When film was in its infancy, movies were shot on volatile nitrate stock that disintegrated in short time. There are estimates that more than 50 percent of the films shown before 1950 are lost forever. In 1968, among AFI's first acts was to establish the AFI Collection at the Library of Congress — a secure repository in Washington, DC, for thousands of cinema classics. AFI rallied the studios to donate copies of their highest quality prints, and to this day, 60,000 films from the first half-century of the art form are secure in the AFI Collection.
The AFI Collection includes film classics by Frank Capra (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, LOST HORIZON, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON), Michael Curtiz (THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, MILDRED PIERCE), Cecil B. DeMille (THE TEN COMMANDMENTS), Walt Disney (PUSS AND BOOTS), John Ford (THE INFORMER, STAGECOACH), D.W. Griffith (THE BIRTH OF A NATION), Howard Hawks (THE CRADLE SNATCHERS, HIS GIRL FRIDAY), Alfred Hitchcock (SUSPICION), John Huston (THE MALTESE FALCON), Buster Keaton (GO WEST), Ernst Lubitsch (ONE ARABIAN NIGHT), Lewis Milestone (ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT), George Stevens (GUNGA DIN, SWING TIME), Orson Welles (CITIZEN KANE), William Wellman (THE PUBLIC ENEMY, WINGS), William Wyler (JEZEBEL) and many, many more.
Learn more about the AFI Collection on the Library of Congress' website.