Founded by photographer Levi Bettweiser, the Rescued Film Project works to recover and develop unclaimed rolls of film from the 1930s to 1990s in an effort to reveal hidden memories and significant moments from past decades. In late 2014 at an auction in Ohio, Bettweiser came across one of his biggest finds yet: 31 rolls of film shot by an unknown soldier during World War II.
Labeled with location names including Boston Harbor, Lucky Strike Beach, and LaHavre Harbor, the 70-year-old film rolls carry historical as well as personal significance. Eager to bring these images to light for the very first time, Bettweiser carefully developed each roll by hand in his own kitchen. The results, which he scanned and uploaded online, are truly incredible glimpses of history that let the viewer travel back in time. The photographer captured candid, everyday moments of life as a soldier during WWII, often focusing on group shots of troops as they strolled around camp, waited to board trains, or departed on ships.
“When I pull the film that I just developed out of my film developing tank and look at them, I’m the very first person who’s ever seen that picture. They’ve never been enjoyed, they’ve never been remembered,” says Bettweiser. “It’s really about saving as many images as possible before they’re all gone. . . The moments of time that were captured on these rolls of film were important to someone at some point.”
To see many more images, check out the gallery on the Rescued Film Project’s website.