Teaching Film Custodians

Throughout a good portion of the 20th century, educational films were loaned to schools, colleges and universities through a company called Teaching Film Custodians (TFC). Agreements with several motion picture companies, including Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century-Fox, existed for the purpose of providing excerpts of feature films for classroom use.

Relations with these motion picture companies were not always easy. A copy of the Members’ Minutes from 1955 indicate that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) placed an embargo on prints for the TFC, which led to the withdrawal of MGM from TFC. A corresponding sharp decrease of income (potentially as much as a 30% decrease) appears to have led to a panic among TFC employees, as they believed they were “facing potential death.”

Although the future of the company was grim, Member Arthur Adams firmly believed that the “program should be continued for both educational and moral reasons to its fullest extent,” as stated in the March 1956 Members’ Meeting. And so it did, although the financial worries never ceased until the company’s merger with Indiana University in 1973.

The University Archives holds a small collection of TFC records, consisting primarily of minutes from the Members’ meetings as well as the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee meetings. The finding aid is now online, contact Archives staff for further information!

Bonus! Several hundred titles from the TFC exist in the Indiana University Film Archive, contact their staff for further information!

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