Did you ever try to create a digital humanities project? With a global impact?

In case you have, please read the following text. In case you haven’t, read it as well.

In 2012 I created Timeline of Historical Film Colors, a globally available and comprehensive resource covering the history of colors in film. Here is further information about the project.

As a start have a look at the figures for the expenses and funding:


Expenses for Timeline of Historical Film Colors so far: 126,000 USD. The biggest part went to salaries for student assistants who did the data management and the html coding for several thousand texts and images. The second huge investment went to web development for a professional content management system.


Expenses for Timeline of Historical Film Colors so far: 126,000 USD. Swiss National Science Foundation covered the biggest part of the costs. On second place is the private investment by project founder Barbara Flueckiger. In 2013 and 2014 the University of Zurich supported the project with a total of 24,000 USD. The crow-funding campaign ended successfully with 11’000 USD.


As it turned out it is much more demanding to sustain such a project than to found it.

Why is that?

  1. There are very few funding agencies and there are no funding models for this kind of open access, globally available resources.
  2. Users take it for granted that they receive access to such a project for free. This idea meets the goal of this project that aims at providing information to a large audience not only of experts, but also of students and a wider public interested in the topic.
  3. There is no return on investment. This is a purely academic and cultural, thus non-commercial endeavor. Any attempt to create a commercial revenue stream would damage the project and its independence.
  4. Data management is an ongoing task. In contrast to Wikipedia the collaborators are paid student assistants with a major in film studies, and every single entry is created, verified and/or reviewed by myself. The project needs continuous development to secure its position.

As a result, this project needs ongoing funding, and this funding should rely on three pillars:

  1. Public funding: I will continuously apply for support with funding agencies as far as they offer schemes for this kind of projects.
  2. Personal funding: I am willing to invest not only a bigger part of my spare time to curate the project, but also to finance as much as I can.
  3. Private sponsors are asked to support the project via the Stripe interface. If private sponsors support the project, they not only provide money, they also make a strong statement: This kind of open access resource is a valuable project which deserves your support. In turn, it becomes much easier to receive third-party funding from official agencies, according to the Matthew principle “for unto every one that hath shall be given.”. Therefore every dollar invested will be multiplied.

Q & A for sponsors:

   What happens with my money?

Every single penny is invested into the project for part of the salaries of student assistants, for archival fees or image rights and – if necessary – for web development. All other expenses such as travel costs, hardware and software will be covered by myself or by third parties. Not a single dollar will stay in my own pockets, it ends up in the pockets of students and archives.

   What do I get in return?

You help to offer and you receive free access to an ever-growing online resource that provides the most comprehensive and delightful insight into the history of color film. Many archivists, film historians and students are very grateful for this resource. On the other hand most people never see a real film print in their life. Here they can marvel at thousands of photographs of historical film prints from archives around the world. In addition you help to keep this resource 100% independent and free of ads.

Plus you become a member of a cultural and academic community by being mentioned on the Acknowledgement page. Or you can remain anonymous if you prefer.

   Why do we need such a project?

Films are one of the most important parts of our culture. We need a growing awareness for the wonderful film heritage, this is the most important reason for this project. Many films are severed from access, either because film copies are too rare, or because they are highly flammable nitrate prints, or because many theaters cannot show analog films any more as a result of their digital projection. Only a very small part of films is digitized. All the other films need to be digitized for access. Film restorers, archivists, film historians, and students need a reliable resource to gather information about the look and technology of historical films that in turn guides their restoration, digitization or research projects.

Why don’t you invest more money?

Despite my enthusiasm for the project I lead an ordinary, albeit modest life and – like everyone else – I have some other expenses to cover…


  • Support the project with whatever you think the project deserves, here is the link to the Stripe interface where you can easily pay with your credit card. In case you don’t trust Stripe or if you don’t want to use your credit card, you can find the bank details here for an ordinary money transfer. Even the smallest contribution is a strong statement that you like the project.
  • In case you cannot support the project financially: Share it on Facebook or Twitter or wherever you find people who might like the project. Or you know a wealthy person who can fund it in your place…
  • In case you think that this project doesn’t deserve additional support: Please let me know why you think so and what you would suggest instead.

Thank you very much!

Barbara Flueckiger



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