In 1982, the Washington State University Libraries received a valuable collection of RKO Radio Picture films from the family of the late broadcasting executive and station owner, J. Elroy McCaw.
This collection of 436 RKO feature-length films and 18 World War II documentaries all produced between the years 1930-1953 is known as the J. Elroy McCaw Memorial Film Collection. The collection has been used in Film Studies classes, and other capacities, since its arrival on campus.
Over time use of the films began to wane due to format changes and delicacy of the original film reels. Some of the reels were transferred to VHS and in 1999 approximately half of the film reels were professionally cleaned.
In 2005 the Apex Foundation and the WSU Libraries entered into a pilot project to digitize 5% of the collection.
The pilot project was intended to gain institutional knowledge of the issues involved with archival storage of both the physical and digital films. In 2007 phase one of the main digitization effort was funded by the Bruce and Jolene McCaw Donor Advised Funds.
The project team is currently wrapping up phase one and will very soon have more streaming videos available and more content surrounding the films available at this site.