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"When a person dies, a library burns."
— African proverb

The amassed volume of experiences, accomplishments, memories, and materials of an individual are some of the most crucial tools utilized to unearth our collective past. The story of one life – interlinked with others through shared experience – connects to form a more complete picture of what once was. This wider understanding of our past, provides a more focused sense of our future. The key to this understanding is comprehensive research…


[ˈrēˌsərCH] – noun

Diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or define facts, insights and understanding of the subject, etc.

With ongoing research, new discoveries continue to expand the overall view of our collective past. The discovery of various materials behind a particular topic, or the cumulative works of a single lifetime, provide a window into a specific subject.

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Through her groundbreaking work, Mindy Johnson is redefining our understanding of women's historical roles within early animation and beyond. Among her most recent breakthroughs, Mindy has uncovered several women within early animation including the collection of Bessie Mae Kelley, a female animator who began her career at Bray Studios in 1917/18... completely shattering the prevailing myth that the early animation industry was solely developed and created by men. Within the expansive range of documents, artwork and other materials contained in this landmark collection, Johnson has discovered the earliest surviving hand-drawn animated film, directed and animated by a woman!

This game-changing discovery has been digitally scanned, restored, and has now debuted at the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum. Through several forthcoming projects, audiences will soon learn the complete story of this pioneering woman — along with many other new discoveries — revealed through Johnson's ongoing work.


Throughout the process of research, the quest for frontline materials and primary sources is often a long and complex journey - various archives, libraries, and private collections around the world must be accessed, culled, and then correlated, to the subject at hand. Time, travel, and technology all factor into the preservation of these essential elements.

If you have materials which relate to the work of early animation, film history, women's history and more, please reach out directly via the link below.

Suggested materials include:


  • Photographs

  • Documents

  • Correspondence

  • First-hand accounts

  • Ephemera

  • Journals

  • Artifacts

  • Film footage

  • Transcripts

  • Artwork

  • Scrapbooks

  • Recordings

The discovery and preservation of our shared history is urgent.

Your vital support through resources, volunteer efforts, and financial assistance for this continued work, ensures definitive materials and collections are discovered, documented, and preserved for future generations.

Please reach out and let's explore the possibilities. Together, we can balance and expand understanding into our collective past.

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