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Research Guides

CIN201: Film Cultures 1: Art & Industry

A comprehensive guide to for finding the best primary source materials (1895-1968) for your Cinema Studies assignment.

Using this page for Assignment 1

This page provides tips on searching within the recommended resources for your assignment. 

Use the Navigation Menu on the side to jump to different sections: 

  • What are Primary Sources? 
  • Search Tips for Media History Digital Library - MHDL
  • Recommended Trade Journals / Magazines
  • Recommended Early Cinema Handbooks and Manuals 
  • Search Tips for using Internet Archive 
  • Tips on Info needed for Citations and details on the You & Your Primary Sources Modules (writing & citing with primary source materials). 

Questions, get in touch with the Cinema Studies Librarian, katej.johnson @

What are Primary Sources?

What are primary sources? 

"A primary source is a document that was created at the time of the event or subject you've chosen to study, or by people who were observers of, or participants in that event or topic."  ~ E.H. Brown ​“Writing about History” UofT Writing Advice​

For this assignment be sure to search for materials created between the time limit for this assignment (1900-1910s).


Examples of primary sources: 

Industry / Trade Magazines

Don't forget there are different types of content within newspapers and magazines

  • Articles 
    • Reviews (e.g., films, books, theatres, even restaurants)
    • Opinion pieces - Editorials (opinion pieces by editor of publication), Letters to the Editor (written by the public and the publication prints them)
    • Front Page / Cover Story, Feature Articles, Regular Columns (e.g,. gossip columns, advice columns, business updates) 
  • Advertisements (often companies or organizations can include text & images)
    • Corporate Advertisements (businesses promoting services, products, and more)
    • Classified ads (posted by individual people seeking buy or find something, promoting their own services or small businesses),
  • Contests or Competitions  
  • Images (e.g., Photos, Illustrations, Cartoons)


Business, Government, or Legal Documents and Publications (Reports, Handbooks Manuals)
  • Architectural plans, Policies and Regulations (e.g., fire code regulations)
  • Contracts, legislation, court documents
  • Memos, letters 

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Media History Digital Library (MHDL) Search Tips


  • Be patience, MHDL's search interface (The Lantern) can take some time to load on your browser. 
  • Technical issues?
    • Try searching directly in the publication through Internet Archive. 
    • All of the publications in Media History Digital Library are linked and stored online within Internet Archive (scroll down for link and tips).

Searching in Media History Digital Library (MHDL)

Quick Links

The Lantern (search interface for MHDL)
Advanced Search Page 


Search Tips for MHDL Lantern 

View or read the following tips for searching because MHDL requires different approaches than Google and UofT LibrarySearch

1) MHDL Video Tutorial available via University of Oregon 


2) Basic Search in Lantern 


3) Using Advanced Search (allows for more specific search results) 
  • Keywords - Advanced search allows you to use 3 keywords for your search, for example: 
    • seating  popular  films 
    • "song slides"  "motion pictures"  cost 
  • Title - Input the Trade Journal (limit to recommended titles for the assignment, can select this as a filter on search results page)
  • Year -  input your date range (can also be done in the search results page)


4) Refine / Narrow your Results with Search Filters

  • Filter out unwanted information for the best search results
    • Locate the Filter Menu on the far left side of your search results and select the following: 
    • Date - Click on the filter and limit the time range by entering the dates or sliding the markers for your date range.
    • Title - Select the recommended publication titles for this assignment.  
  • Don't see any articles in the first page of search results?
    • Be aware that the first results might be advertisements or images because MHDL Lantern looks for the most mentions of your search term in the documents (e.g., articles, photo spreads, advertisements, lists of films or vendors, etc.).
    • Try skipping past the first few pages of the search results. 


5) Access the Articles / Ads / Images - Internet Archive Interface Walkthrough
Careful when selecting to DOWNLOAD
  • Select to download the article, not the entire volume.
    • Each volume contains all the issues / magazines that were published in that time span so the file size is VERY large. It's better to flip and read through the publications online and capture the content you need (e.g., few pages from one issue of the publication, advertisement on a page)
  • Some entries may be for one page of a multi page article, click through to see the full page online.

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Recommended Trade / Industry Magazines

Search by Titles of Trade/Industry Publications

  1. Use MHDL Advanced Search, add relevant keywords, but under Title: add the name of 1 publications, and set your Dates (or use the filters on the results page).
  2. ALWAYS choose to Read the publication online. These are large files so avoid downloading an entire volume. MHDL is set up so you can download the individual image, article or advertisement, but be sure to SAVE THE URL
  3. MDHL Lantern will redirect to the digitalized file stored within Internet Archive (scroll down for search tips for this online database) 

Recommended Resources for Assignment 1

Your instructor has highlighted particular publications found within Media History Digital Library's the Early Cinema collection and flip through the pages of various publications to get ideas. 


Moving Picture World (limit between 1907 to 1913)

  • MDHL - Moving Picture World, Internet Archive - Moving Picture World
  • "The only Independent Weekly Journal published in the interest of Manufacturers and Operators of Animated Photographs and Cinematograph Projection, Illustrated Songs, Lantern Lectures and Lantern Slide Makers"
  • Details the projectionist priorities for exhibition including editorials weighing the benefits and disadvantages of different equipment
    • Contains letters from operators discussing the trade and notes on where to purchase equipment as well as films.
  • News on development in the film world allows you to track what trends were  happening in a given year so you can be chronological accurate in your theatre proposal
  • Contains advertisements for extra materials like novelty slides that can accompany film screenings

The Nickelodeon (limit between 1909 to 1911)

  • MHDL - The Nickelodeon, Internet Archive - The Nickelodeon
  • Provides insights on operations of Nickelodeon theatres at that time.
  • Advertisements for theatre furniture and tips for Nickelodeon operators on advertising, decorating, etc. in articles, but there are also published letters and inquiries from operators currently in the business. 
  • Short summaries of available films, sorted by production company
  • List of new patents for "amusement," helpful to see the new technology being produced

Moving Picture News (limit between 1908-1913)

  • MHDL - Moving Picture News, Internet Archive - Moving Picture News
  • Starts at the beginning of 1908 and has a focus on the films, including reviews, plot descriptions and physical details about the films (e.g, number of reels or length of film) and some images from the films or marketing
  • Provides tips for operators looking for guidance, especially on advertising and decoration (e.g., lighting fixtures and rails meant to enhance the visuals of a theatre)
  • Learn about the extra promotional material sent by distributors when operators purchase films for their theatres

Variety (limit between 1905 to 1913)

  • MHDL - Variety, Internet Archive - Variety
  • Earlier issues are majority focused on vaudeville rather than the film industry but many of these spaces were converted into movie theatres so descriptions of spaces can be useful to consider  
  • "Film Flashes" segment talks about the film industry, but focused on production side of the industry and films, rather than exhibition trends

Views and Film Index (limit to 1908)

  • Internet Archive - Views and Film Index, MHDL - Views and Film Index
    • Please note that MHDL's list includes 1910; however, this is an issue of The Film Index
  • Extensive listing of available films and their plots, but also highlights items that could be bonus or supplementary materials that could accompany a screening (i.e., listing song slides, lectures, etc.)
  • Highlights industry news relating to new theatres opening, helpful for details on what could be expected from a new theatre In depth information on what kind of equipment was needed for an operator, tips for installation and some images of theatre layouts 
  • "Projection Department" segment publishes operators' questions about issues they've run into (largely technical, projection-related) and receiving advice. This info could inform your decisions about equipment for your theatre. 

The Film Index (limit between 1909 to 1911)

  • Internet Archive - The Film Index, MHDL - The Film Index
    • Please note that MHDL has issues of The Film Index also listed under Film Index and Views and Film Index, and users will need to navigate the webpage on their own to locate these
  • Continuation of Views and Film Index, changing its title to The Film Index at the start of 1909

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Recommended Industry / Professional Handbooks and Manuals

Search Tips for these Manuals 

Look at Table of Contents or Index first! 

  • A book's table of contents (located in the first few pages) or index (located in the last pages) to learn what topics are covered in each book or flip to the back and if there is an index at the back of the book. 
  • Identify page numbers for the relevant information and flip through the pages or use the slider at the bottom to jump to different sections of the manual

Search within Manuals using Keywords

  • Next you can search for keyword within the book. (e.g., contests, families, posters, projector, music)
  • Hyper links should be displayed for any mention of your keyword. Scroll further down for tips on searching within a resource (e.g.,book, magazine, etc.) that is stored online within the Internet Archive.

More Search Tips for Internet Archive


Recommended Resources for Assignment 1

Your instructor has highlighted particular publications that are available via Internet Archive.

Please use the direct links below:

Search Tips for Internet Archive

Internet Archive is a massive online repository of scanned publications, video, sound recordings and more. It's a lot of info to navigate so be sure to take a look at these instructions: 

Key Links

Internet Archive Search 

Internet Archive Advanced Search 

How to use Internet Archive 

Overview of Internet Archive's layout, search interfaces, and how to navigate content (e.g., digitized magazines, journals, books, audio visuals collections and more) for this assignment. 

Search - A basic guide  

  • Different ways to search 
  • How to sort search results
  • How to search within a collection
  • Use the metadata lists to filter your results by Media Type, Year, Topics

Search - Tips and troubleshooting 

  • How to narrow your search results by title or using quotation marks and Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) 
  • Search for multiple subjects 

Building powerful, complex search queries 


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Important for Citing Primary Sources

You & Your Sources - Primary Sources Modules 

  • Access You & Your Sources Modules through your CIN201 Quercus
  • These modules on writing and citing with primary source materials and research platforms (Media History Digital Library and Internet Archive). 

Record the Following Information for Citations

It's important that you record the information needed so someone else (e.g., your TAs) can find the information used in your assignment. 

  • Title of the Document / Image
    • For advertisements and images, you may have to create a title. 
  • Title of the Publication
    • Remember to record the title of the publication in which your article, image, etc. was found, and that this title must be italicized. 
  • Date of Publishing 
    • Year and if available month and day (May 5) 
      • Newspapers are printed daily so you should have the exact date
      • Magazines could be printed weekly, monthly or over a range of time (e.g., quarterly, bi-weekly) 
      • You may need to flip to the publications cover to find this info, but also look at the header or footer of the page
  • Volume and Issue 
    • The digital copies of these publications can group all the magazines published in one year and this is often called a volume
    • Each published magazine is assigned an issue number or specify the month or season (e.g., Fall, Winter) when it was printed to keep track
    • Newspapers don't typically have volume and issues numbers since they are published daily. 
  • Page Numbers 
    • Page numbers in newspapers may also include Letter to mark the section of the newspaper (e.g., A12) 

Citing Images and Adverstiments