Founded by photographer Levi Bettwieser, The Rescued Film Project specializes in unclaimed film rolls from the 1930s to the 1990s. The project basically collects and develops them for the first time, salvaging hidden memories than might have otherwise been completely lost to time.
In late 2014 at an auction in Ohio, Bettwieser discovered a lot of 31 undeveloped film rolls dating back to WWII with labels including Boston Harbor, La Havre Harbor, and Lucky Strike Camp.
After acquiring the rolls of film, he set to work and developed dozens of usable negatives that somehow survived the last 70 years. The process was captured in this 10-minute film by Tucker Debevec.
Bettwieser says that although many of the rolls were too damaged to develop, the majority of them resulted in usable prints, and he still has one larger format roll to develop that requires special supplies.
Staring carefully at so many photos may have also resulted in an additional discovery. Bettwieser noticed a single unidentified soldier seems to appear in several different shots, and he suspects this may be the photographer who lent the camera to others in order to get shots of himself. You can scroll through dozens more photos over on the project’s website.
Part of the Rescued Film Project’s mission is to connect photos with relevant places and people, so if you recognize anything, or if you have rolls of old undeveloped film, be sure to get in touch.