A look behind the curtains of the Thank the Academy project

podium with Oscar statuette sitting on it

As an emotion that requires great foresight

and awareness of another’s actions and intentions,

gratitude is intricate by default and, consequently,

challenging to study.

Thank the Academy is a web-based interactive application best viewed on a laptop that visually displays identified patterns of expressing and performing gratitude in the past sixty years of Academy Award acceptance speeches. The project’s ultimate goal is provide a digitally accessible understanding of the ways in which actors demonstrate and uphold this long-standing practice of gratefulness.

Beginning with the first telecast in 1952, more than 200 speeches were pulled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library database and surveyed to understand the verbal and physical expression of gratitude. To be counted, the recipient had to be present to accept the award, and a video of the speech needed to be available for study.

The research result is one interpretation of a framework for thanking. You are welcome to take this data and use it for your own analysis. All rights and privileges of the transcripts, videos, and speeches themselves belong to AMPAS.

Who we are

Rebecca Rolfe, MSc Digital Media, May 2013,
at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Janet Murray, advisor

Dr. Rebecca Burnett, committee

Dr. Celia Pearce, committee

With generous funding from the

ONA AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship

Download the data

Read more about the project