Ken Foree (far left), the main protagonist of George A. Romero’s 1978 film “Dawn of the Dead,” crouches behind a trash can during filming in Monroeville Mall. From the George A. Romero Collection at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Library System, Archives & Special Collections.

George A. Romero, the late godfather of the zombie movie, first came to Pittsburgh as a student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, but his legacy will live on at the University of Pittsburgh.

On May 16, Pitt’s library system announced that they had acquired a trove of the personal and professional effects of the late filmmaking icon.

“On behalf of the George Romero Estate and the George A. Romero Foundation, we are pleased that George’s archive is where it belongs — at the esteemed University of Pittsburgh University Library System and the great city of Pittsburgh,” said Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, the filmmaker’s widow. “We are excited to help contribute to the advancement of George’s legacy as an icon and a filmmaker.”

A foam latex zombie head, project unknown. From the George A. Romero Collection at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Library System, Archives & Special Collections.

The archive includes donations from the separate personal collections of Desrocher-Romero, Romero’s daughter Tina and the director’s long-time producer and business partner Peter Grunwald.

“George was a natural teacher,” said Grunwald. “He would have loved knowing that his collection would be used to educate and inspire future generations.”

The collection contains several screenplays, previously unreleased set photos and a foam zombie head (left).

A team of film and media studies graduate students at Pitt will use their delicious brains to catalog the full collection this summer, with public access available this fall.

“With the addition of this truly unique collection, Pitt’s University Library System continues to distinguish itself in the depth and breadth of its research resources — all to the benefit of an ever more inclusive community of scholars — in Pittsburgh and around the world,” said Ann E. Cudd, Pitt’s provost and senior vice chancellor.

According to a press release, the George A. Romero Collection will serve as the basis for a larger archive dedicated to the research and study of horror and science fiction.

Romero’s legacy will live alongside thousands of pulp novels from the 1960s–80s, rare editions of “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” as well as scripts from major filmmakers such as Wes Craven and John Carpenter.

“George’s contributions to filmmaking in Pittsburgh, to horror as social and political cinema, as well as to the independent film tradition, are unmatched and transformative,” said Adam Lowenstein, professor of English and film and media studies at Pitt and a Romero Foundation board member. “This remarkable collection will allow his achievements to be seen through a revelatory lens that sheds light not only on an individual career but on crucial issues in film and culture.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.