Long-Lost Photos Are Brought Back To Life Thanks To The Rescued Film Project

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Photographs have been the way for people to capture and keep memories for over a century.

Once a sign of wealth and status, photography quickly became available to all thanks to the rapid development of photographic films and cameras.

Pretty soon, taking a photo was as simple as pressing a button, and generations of kids grew up snapping photos.

Today, it’s even easier to take a photo, and you don’t even have to wait for it to get developed, thanks to digital technology. In fact, we take so many photos, we almost have to learn to hold back a bit!

But just like anything else, some memories don’t last, even though someone went through the trouble of taking a picture.

In the 20th century, thousands of rolls of film have been forgotten and left by the wayside.

Some get destroyed, but others simply get shoved back into dark corners, where they wait for someone to find them.

And sometimes, what gets lost gets found again. Like the letter that found its way to a Korean War veteran 63 years later, these photos are being unearthed and showing us new views of history that might have otherwise been lost forever.

It’s all thanks to the Rescued Film Project. This team of vintage and photography enthusiasts collects and develops old rolls of film from the 1930s to the late 1990s.

They have not only the technology to develop vintage film types, but can also restore film that has been damaged. They digitize the photos, too, so we can all see them!

Read on to see some of what they’ve found in their collection. Some of it is truly amazing!

[H/T: Colossal]

The Rescued Film Project collects forgotten rolls of film from all around the world, dating from the 1930s through the late 1990s. These rolls, for whatever reason, have never been developed.

Recently, the group found a huge store of film rolls from the 1950s. In all, this collection appears to contain some 1,200 rolls of film.

The newest collection was all taken by a single photographer, who meticulously labeled each roll.

But outside of his first name, Paul, nothing is known about this diligent photographer.




Over the past few years, the Rescued Film Project has developed some 18,000 photos that would have otherwise been completely lost to time, including 31 rolls of film shot during World War II.

The film comes in all formats, and would have been taken with many different types of cameras, some professional grade, others designed for amateurs. Many types of film are no longer manufactured.


But no matter what it is, the project can process and develop it, showing the images to the world for the first time since they were captured on film.

After developing, the photos are scanned and digitally archived so that people all over the world can see the collection online, and maybe even piece together some of the history behind the images.

The Rescued Film Project also accepts contributions, so if you come across some old film, or have film but nowhere to process it, you can send it in and they can develop it.

So what kinds of images do they find? Some pretty amazing ones!

Check out some of the things they have uncovered.

Among the thousands of photos developed were about 30 rolls shot in various locations and by various people during WWII.

This scene shows three American soldiers walking through an unidentified European city, probably in Germany or Austria.

And this photo shows a group of soldiers, but who or where they are is unknown. If you recognize anyone, let us know!

Some of the photos appear to be professional or editorial—or perhaps just very good shots.

There are also photos of major historical events. A series of photos, taken of a TV screen, show the re-entry and splashdown of the Apollo 13 mission.

One of them even shows the Apollo vessel itself, bobbing in the water.

Whoever took these photos, which include a number of scenes from the Apollo 13 coverage, wanted to remember this event forever!

Other photos seem like they might have, at one time, been sensitive material.

This photo documents the U.S. Army’s early experimentation with drones.

And sometimes, amazing history appears! This candid photo of President Dwight D. Eisenhower had simply been sitting in a roll for more than half a century!

But it’s not all historical events. Plenty of the photos recovered by the Rescued Film Project also show the everyday lives of all kinds of people.

Just simple, timeless moments shared by friends and family.

We don’t know who these people are or what became of them, but here they are, smiling out at us from the past.

Some of the photos capture life events, like this graduation snapshot.

And others show people simply having fun and living their lives.

Some of them are really striking images, too.

These photos show us how much things have changed, but also how they haven’t. We still love to snap photos of our friends, family, and dogs!

As for the new find of the carefully labeled film from the 1950s, the Rescued Film Project is currently seeking funding for its development and archiving. All of their film restoration is crowd-funded via IndieGogo.

Check out the video below to learn more about the project and how you can be a part of it, and learn what might be on these 1,200 rolls of film!

Check out more of the Rescued Film Project’s discoveries on their website, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

Please SHARE this fascinating project with anyone who loves lost-and-found history, and with all of your shutterbug friends!