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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.

CIN201 Search tips for Assignment 1 (Videos)

Further down on this page you will find links and tips on using these resources. Use the menu on the left sid to navigate the sections. 

1) Using the CIN201 Guide and Overview on Primary Source Materials in Media History Digital Library (MHDL) 

  • Using the guide and what are primary sources
  • Finding info for your citations 
  • MHDL Overview & tips for trouble shooting
  • Browsing the Early Cinema Collection and how to access the recommended publications through Internet Archive


2) Searching for Content in MHDL's Lantern

  • Accessing Lantern
  • Using Basic Search and Advanced Search
  • Filtering your Results (Date, Title, Collection)
  • Access the materials via Internet Archive 


3) Accessing Historical Handbooks and Manuals through the Internet Archive 

  • Accessing the Handbooks via Research Guide 
  • Navigating content within Internet Archive 

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, theatre, 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, business updates) 
  • Advertisements (often companies or organizations can include text & images)
    • 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 

Important for Citing Primary Sources

Record the Following Infornation 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 

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 (see search tip 1) 
    • All of the publications in Media History Digital Library are linked and stored online within Internet Archive (scroll down for link and tips).

MHDL Search Tips

Visit the MHDL Resources For Students page for in-depth help on learning how to best utilize the platform to get you the results you’re looking for. The page shows how to:

  1. Browse collections related specifically to theatre and vaudeville spaces

    • Explore the Early Cinema collection and flip through the pages of various publications to get ideas: 
      • Scroll down and select a title: The NIckelodeon  
      • Identify a year that interests you and select the volume for that year:  The NIckelodeon (1901-1911)
      • Open up the digital scan of the publication by clicking on Read link.
        • ALWAYS choose Read when browsing via Collections. 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)
  2. Search most effectively using MHDL's The Lantern (search platform / interface)

    • Important Links
      • MHDL Resources For Students page (be sure to read about The Lantern)
      • The Lantern 
        • Locate the search bar at the top the website 
        • OR use the Lantern's Advanced Search Page
          • Allows you to use 3 keywords for your search
            • seating  popular  films 
            • "song slides"  "motion pictures"  cost 
          • All or Any of the keywords using the dropdown menu. 
    • 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.
        • Collection - click on this filter and select Early Cinema 
        • Title - Select your preferred publication title 
    • Don't see any articles in the first page of search results?
      • Be aware that the first results might be advertisments 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.). You might want to skip past the first few pages of results. 

Recommended Trade / Industry Magazines

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: 

  1. Scroll down and select a title, e.g., The Nickelodeon 
  2. Identify a year that interests you and select the volume for that year, e.g., The Nickelodeon (1901-1911)
  3. 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
  4. The links listed in MHDL Early Cinema collection will redirect to the digitalized file stored within Internet Archive (scroll down for search tips for this online database) 


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 material like novelty slides that can accompany film screenings

The Nickelodeon

  • Provides insights into how Nickelodeon operations run 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

Motion Picture News

  • Starts at the end of 1913 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 distributors would send along when operators purchase films for their theatres


  • 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

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 publishesoperators' 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. 

Recommended Industry / Professional Handbooks and Manuals

Recommended Resources for Assignment 1

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

Please use the direct links below:

  • FIRST look at the book's table of contents (located in the first few 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 
  • Next you can search for keywords within the book.
  • Scroll further down for tips on searching within a resource (e.g.,book, magazine, etc.) that is stored online within the Internet Archive.

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: 

How to use Internet Archive 

  • Overview of Internet Archive's layout, search interfaces, and how to navigate content 
  • Learn how to move through the digitized magazines, journals, and books 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 

Search - Buiding powerful, complex queries