UNLV’s University Libraries and department of film received a $271,580 National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Award for their project, “Inventing Hollywood: Preserving and Providing Access to the Papers of Renegade Genius Howard Hughes.” Project co-leaders Heather Addison, chair of the UNLV department of film, and Cyndi Shein, head of special collections’ technical services at UNLV Libraries, reflect on the importance of preserving the collection.
The Tony Stark of his era. That is perhaps the most concise description of Howard Robard Hughes (1905-1976), arguably one of America’s most significant visionaries. Intuitive, mercurial, and insistent upon continual out-of-the-box innovation in everything he did, Hughes pushed himself and everyone around him to shape the future by looking beyond the possibilities of the present.
He leveraged an initial inheritance from his parents to build one of the largest private fortunes in the world as he pursued an intense personal interest in motion picture production and aviation engineering.
Hughes established strong ties to Southern Nevada during the latter half of his life and donated his company records and photographs to UNLV for preservation and study. The Howard Hughes Motion Picture Papers were obtained for the institution in 1996 by the first chair of the department of film, Hart Wegner, who had the foresight and determination to recognize their long-term research value.
The records span nearly a half century and focus on Hughes’ motion picture enterprises from the late 1920s through the mid-1970s, including an impressive range of materials related to the art, technology, economics, and social impact of American cinema.