The American Film History's preservation efforts date back to its founding in the White House Rose Garden in 1965, and remains a cornerstone of its mission statement — to preserve, honor and educate.

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 shot before 1950 are lost forever. One of AFI's first acts was to establish the AFI Collection at the Library of Congress, which to this day contributes to our nation's growing volume of culturally, historically or aesthetically significant works of moving image.

To create the first-ever in-depth source of vetted information about the art form, the AFI Catalog of Feature Films published its first volume of research in 1971. Never before had there been a singular scholarly resource for every American film. The Catalog is a historic record, and in 2017 AFI is proud to announce that the first 100 years of American film will have been documented.

AFI also maintains the AFI Archive as an important part of the preservation of film heritage. The Archive comprises rare footage from across the history of the moving image, including exclusive film, video and audio recordings of master filmmakers discussing their work and the art form.