Over 17,000 films, produced or released in the United States are included in this volume. Research took almost eight years to complete. The project covers motion pictures from 1893, the year that Thomas A. Edison built the Black Maria, the first motion picture studio. Names of prominent filmmakers include Americans such as Thomas A. Edison, Edwin S. Porter, Sigmund Lubin and D. W. Griffith. Important films include Fred Ott's Sneeze (1893), The Kiss (1896), The Passion Play (1898), The Great Train Robbery (1903), The Adventure of Dollie (1908). Early filmed vels include The Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, Ben Hur, and David Copperfield. Other important titles include The Electrocution of an Elephant, Cripple Creek Bar Room (1898), Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906), and D. W. Griffith's A Corner in Wheat (1909). Historically, the volume is important because of the extensive documentation of historical figures and events, from the assassination of President McKinley to the rescuers of survivors of the Maine. There are also a number of films that showed everyday life, including factories, families at leisure and the U.S. Postal Service.
The American Film Institute was established by an act of Congress in 1967. From that time, the AFI has been a leader in educating future filmmakers and in film preservation. As part of the Institute's ongoing film preservaion efforts, it produces the prestigious AFI Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States , a decade-by-decade, encyclopedic catalog of American films.