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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.

Finding Film Credits and Production Info

Film Index contain profiles on specific film titles, key figures in the film industry (directors, actors, composers, writers, etc.), and particular companies. You will find one record for the films unless there have been remakes of the work.

  • Search for the Film Title or Name. 
  • Scroll down the record and often you will find information about the production of the film and citation information for different reviews and articles about the film. 
  • There are no direct links to online content in these resources, you will need to look up the articles listed in these records in these film indexes 
    • See How to Find Articles, for instructions on how to use a citation to access a journal / newspapers / magazine article.
    • Search Individual Historical Publications (links to The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, New York Times, etc)

AFI Catalog (1893+) 

The AFI Catalog, the premier, authoritative resource of American film information, covers the history of American cinema comprehensively from 1893 to 1993, with full or short records for films from 1994-2015. New records are added each year by the AFI's editorial team.

Film Index International (1900+) 

Film Index International is produced in collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI) and provides in-depth indexing of over 125,000 films from the first silent movies to the latest blockbusters and biographical information for more than 900,000 personalities. It includes records on films from over 170 countries and has extensive coverage of international film awards and prizes. Its rich content also includes searchable plot summaries, full cast and crew lists as well as references to periodical articles on film and film-makers.

Film Research Collections (Museums, Research Institutions, Archives)

Museums 

Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) 

This digital collection contains a complete run of Academy Awards ceremony programs, posters, and rules books, as well as selected photographs and ephemera from the library's extensive holdings.

  • Click on Advanced Search link beside the Search Button.
  • The default is to search all digital collections, but you can select specific collections by clicking on Add or remove collections (to the right o the search window). 
  • Be sure to limit your search result to the time period for your topic. Click on Search by Date under the advance search window and enter the time range.
Complete list of Margaret Herrick Library's Digital Collections  

 

George Eastman Museum (Online Collections)  

Explore the George Eastman Museum's collections online. More than a quarter of a million objects from the photography, technology, and George Eastman Legacy collections are now searchable, and more of the museum's vast holdings will be added on an ongoing basis.

 

Museum of the Moving Image - Collections   

Museum of the Moving Image houses artifacts from every stage of producing, promoting, and exhibiting motion pictures, television, and digital media—more than 130,000 objects in all. Holdings include licensed merchandise, technical apparatus, still photographs, production design materials, costumes, fan magazines, publicity materials, and video and computer games. Its online catalog currently contains silent film era and spotlight collections.

 

Smithsonian - Digital Collections

National Museum of American History - Let's Go to the Movies 

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is home to an extensive number of objects and images related to film and television history, and more is being digitized all the time.

National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC)

Smithsonian Open Access - Media Search Platform

  • Check-off "Open Access Media" below the search toolbar to view digital content available to the public. 

Screenshot of Smithsonian's Search Platform for Open Access Media - si.edu

 

 

Film Research - Academic Collections 

 Media History Digital Library (1856-1996, depends on the publication)

Explore the types of materials in MHDL and learn search strategies / tools  for accessing MHDL's collections (i.e., Lantern, Archlight). 

>> Learn more about search strategies for Media History Digital Library 

 

CineFiles (UC Berkeley - BAMPFA)

CineFiles is an ongoing project of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)'s Film Library and Study Center.

  • Their website, run on the open source Blacklight framework contains scanned images of reviews, press kits, film festival and repertory theater program notes, newspaper articles, and other ephemera from their extensive collections.
  • To search, you can submit a keywords search on the main page or click on "Advanced Search" 
    • Search filters can be found on the left side of the page, definitely explore "Document Type" to see the range of BAMPFA's digitized materials. 
    • In the top right corner of the page, a login link will allow you to connect (or set up) your free Cinefile account
  • Search collections based on "Item Type": 
    • press kits (limited to date range 1924-1968, filtered in chronological order)
    • exhibitor manual (limited to date range 1924-1968, filtered in chronological order)
    • distributors materials (limited to date range 1924-1968, filtered in chronological order)
    • exhibitor manuals (limited to date range 1920-1968 but more results for 1940s onward, filtered in chronological order)
    • program notes  (limited to date range 1924-1968 but more results for 1950s-1960s, filtered in chronological order)
    • booklet (limited to date range 1924-1968 but more results for 1950s-1960s, filtered in alphabetical order)

Screenshot of bampfa's cinefiles website highlighting search filters on left side, search field in top middle of page, link to Advanced Search and Login link in the top right corner of the website

 

 

Harry Ransom Center (U of Texas at Austin) 

The Ransom Center is an internationally renowned humanities research centre at The University of Texas at Austin. Its collections provide "unique insight into the creative process of some of our finest writers and artists, deepening the understanding and appreciation of literature, photography, film, art, and the performing arts". Its research guides provide an overview of collections topics (e.g., Film and Televison), but be aware that includes physical onsite and digital content. Visit Digital Collections to review only digitized materials. 

  • Use Advanced Search for Digital content
  • Movie Poster Collection: View thousands of movie posters from the 1940s through the 1970s for musicals, epics, westerns, horror, and counter culture films.
  • Norman O. Dawn Collection - Early film special effects innovator - This consists of "164 display cards that illustrate over 230 of the 861 special effects Dawn created in more than 80 movies, which he constructed personally from his own field notebooks and methodical records.The collection also includes a small amount of correspondence and other manuscript material".
  • Alfred Junge Film Collection: This collection consists of photographs and drawings from the career of the prominent British art director, Alfred Jung.

Screen shot of Harry Ransom Center's Movie Poster Collection landing page on its website

 

Film Archives - Research Portals 

European Film Gateway 

  • The EFG Portal gives you quick access to hundreds of thousands of film historical documents as preserved in European film archives and cinémathèques. It is a single access point to films, images and texts from selected collections of 38 film archives across Europe.
  • The wide range of collections include: photos, posters, programmes, periodicals, censorship documents, rare feature and documentary films, newsreels and other materials.

 

EUscreen

  • EUscreen offers free online access to videos, stills, texts and audio from European broadcasters and audiovisual archives
  • Explore selected content from early 1900s until today

 

Calisphere - California Online Collections

Calisphere is a gateway to digital collections from California's great libraries, archives, and museums. Discover over 1,975,000 images, texts, and recordings—and counting.

  • View all collections discoverable via Calisphere 
  • Movie Poster Collection (1910-1940), Owning Institution: Los Angeles Public Library
    • "From the special collections of the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch Library, this collection spans from the earliest years of the motion picture industry to the World War II era."
  • Jonathan Silent Film Collection, Owning Institution: Chapman University, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives 
    • A selection of images from the Jonathan Silent Film collection which covers the early years of the film industry and specifically the contributions of Carl Louis Gregory, Eric Berndt, the Thanhouser Film Studio, and the Edison Studio among others.
  • Search "animal locomotion" and limited 1880s. USC Libraries Special Collections. 

 

Victorian Popular Culture

The Victorian Popular Culture portal is an essential resource for the study of popular entertainment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Screenshot of Victorian Popular Culture portal homepage.

MPPDA Archive (Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America)

MPPDA Digital Archive (1922-1939)

  • This database contains the extant records of the General Correspondence files of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc.
  • "The MPPDA was the trade association for the motion picture industry, and included all the major companies producing and distributing motion pictures in the United States in its membership ... [This collection contains documents that] "describe the organization and operation of the industry's trade association, and include extensive correspondence and other documentation relating to industry policy and public relations, distributor-exhibitor relations, censorship and self-regulation. The great majority of this material is unavailable from other sources."

Note: Users must register to view the scanned documents clearly. 

screenshot MPPDA website with Register highlighted in menu toolbar

 

MPPDA's Production Code Administration records can also be found in the Margaret Herrick Library digital collections. 

Production Code - MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)

 

Archives Unbound Collections - Production Code 

Hollywood, Moral Censorship, and the Motion Picture Production Code, 1927-1968 

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Production Code Administration Files collection documents forty years of self-regulation and censorship in the motion picture industry. The Production Code was written in 1929 by Martin J. Quigley, an influential editor and publisher of motion picture trade periodicals, and Reverend Daniel A. Lord, a Jesuit advisor to Hollywood filmmakers. Officially accepted in 1930 by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), the precursor organization to the MPAA, the Production Code presented guidelines governing American movie production.

 

Margaret Herrick Library - MPPDA records

This interface also holds digitized copies of the Production Code (along with other industry documents), however the search interface isn't as easy to navigate. 

"Full documentation from a selection of 500 film titles in the Motion Picture Association of America Production Code Administration records. Will Hays, as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) in 1930, introduced the Production Code, a document designed to help the industry regulate itself by following certain moral principles and guidelines. Hays chose Joseph Breen to oversee the administration of the Code in 1934. Under Breen, the studios were required to submit all screenplays for approval and all films released by MPPDA member companies were required to display a Code seal. In 1946, the organization changed its name to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Hays was succeeded by Eric Johnston. The Production Code remained in force until 1968, when it was superseded by the MPAA ratings system, which is still in use today. Read more about the Motion Picture Association of America Production Code Administration records." 

 

FBI & Hollywood

Archives Unbound Collections

 

FBI Files 

"In August 1942 J. Edgar Hoover, [the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,] ordered the bureau’s Los Angeles office to report on “Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry.” Various FBI reports chronicled the working of major film studios such as MGM, Paramount, RKO, and Warner Brothers, and studio management and labor union power struggles. The FBI's investigation of Hollywood resulted in many thousands of pages and show a growing operation organized in the early 1940s that continued throughout the Cold War."

FBI File: Hollywood and J. Edgar Hoover: Investigations of Actors and Directors Digital Archive
  • 1922-1961
  • "This collection comprises the FOIA files related to a variety of subjects under FBI surveillance due to their alleged Communist or “fellow traveler” activities. It does not include the files related to the Hollywood Ten." This archive is based on original microfilm.
FBI File: Hollywood and J. Edgar Hoover: Communists in the Motion Picture Industry Digital Archive
  • 1925-1961
  • "This collection includes files on FBI investigations of mainstream films, informer reports, and surveillance of hundreds of influential writers, actors, directors, producers, union leaders, and studio executives during the Blacklist Period." This archive is based on original microfilm.
FBI File: Howard Hughes Digital Archive
  • 1941-1981
  • "This collection comprises of FBI records documenting Hughes’s activities in various enterprises including aircraft manufacture and aviation; the motion picture business; Las Vegas real estate; and the Nevada gaming industry." This archive is based on original microfilm.
Federal surveillance of African Americans
  • 1920-1984
  • "The Federal Bureau of Investigation enlisted black "confidential special informants" to infiltrate a variety of organizations. Hundreds of documents in this collection were originated by such operatives. In addition to infiltration, the FBI contributed to the infringement of First Amendment freedoms by making its agents a constant visible presence at radical rallies and meetings. This archive is based on original microfilm."

Streaming Film Collections

National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

It is possible to search NFB collection through the library catalogue, the NFB link on UofT Streaming page or visiting NFB website. Accessing NFB collection through UofT Libraries subscription to access all the resources available through NFB Campus.

Search via UofT LibrarySearch

  • Explore UofT search results for following search: 
    • Keywords: "National Film Board of Canada" OR NFB
    • Format: limited to Film and Video
    • Publication Date: limited between 1895 to 1968

Search via NFB Website (UTORid, No UTORid)

Narrow by date

The NFB website has quick links that allow you to explore its collections (e.g., Titles, Directors, Channels, Playlists, Subjects). To narrow you search results by date or genre, we recommend the following approaches:  

a) Search by keyword
  1. Enter your keyword (e.g., women, name, etc.) in the search bar closer to the top of the page
  2. Sort by date: click on the dropdown menu and select "Publication date (older first)"  
  3. Sort by genre:  click on the "All Genres" drop down menu to see all the options ,  

  screen shot of NFB search page with genre and date filters highlighted.

 

b) Search by film title

Click on Films in the menu on the left side and select the Titles Button (be aware this option is organized alphabetically and you will be redirected to titles beginning with "A")

  1. Use the date slide to narrow your date range between 1917 to 1968 (or your preferred date range)
  2. Click on Alphabetical order and select "Publication date"

 Screenshot of NFB website, search by title highlighting filters for date and order by oldest publication

 

 

Socialism on Film: Module II Newsreels and Cinemagazines 

The Socialism on Film is a collection from Soviet, Chinese, Vietanmese, East European, British and Latin American filmmakers. It contains nearly 1,000 individual titles  and focuses predominantly on newsreel series including: 

  • China Today and Vietnam Today newsreels
  • Diplomatic and Political Newsreels collection (focused on the USSR, Cold War alliances, and summits) 
  • Global Newsreels - GDR Magazine (German Democratic Republic), Czechoslovakia in Pictures, Czechoslovak Life, and Bulgarian Chronicle
  • Soviet newsreels and cinemagazines - 10 Minutes Around the USSR, Around the Soviet Union, Agricultural News and Soviet Sport.

"This collection of films is produced almost exclusively in the communist world and then versioned into English for distribution in the West. All the films in this collection have been digitized from the original 16mm and 35mm film reels."

 

Library of Congress - Digital Collections 

Collections with Online Videos 

Click through to the collections and see what other materials are stored in these digital collections. 

Film Music and Audio Archives

Silent Film Sound & Music Archive (SFSMA) 

SFSMA was established in 2014 with the goal of digitizing and sharing music for the silent cinema (c.1895-1930) for research and performance use. The archive includes sheet music for film, cue sheets, instruction manuals for film accompanists, and a bibliography of resources on silent film sound and music. All of the silent film music archived here is available to download for free.

Melody Magazine Collection

The complete run of Melody Magazine (1917-1930), which provided information on cinema accompaniment and music for use in the theatre.

 

Recorded Sound Research at the Library of Congress 

Digital Collections

"Over 25 digital Library of Congress collections include, or are comprised of, film or video materials. The following selected list of moving image collections provide a good starting point for research. The newest collection—The National Screen Room—offers a broad range of historical and more current films on a wide variety of themes." 

 

Margaret Herrick Library - Robert Cushman Sheet Music Collection

(1900s-1930s) The music in the collection is often from, related to, or inspired by a film, and many covers contain images of film stars, often tied to a film company or specific production. 

Newspapers (film reviews, articles, editorials & more)

Specific Newspapers

New York Times 

  • (1851+; Note: 3 year delay [most recent 3 years] , ProQuest).
  • Can sort the results chronologically (oldest first) in order to follow the entire production process of a particular film, from gossip about potential stars to reviews and box-office grosses.

Los Angeles Times 

  • (1881 - 1996, ProQuest).
  • Can sort the results chronologically (oldest first) in order to follow the entire production process of a particular film, from gossip about potential stars to reviews and box-office grosses.

The Chicago Defender 

  • (1910-1967, ProQuest)
  • The historical full-text of one of the most influential black newspapers in the United States.
  • ALTERNATE VERSION: The Chicago Defender 1909+ for this latter item only, enter Chicago Defender in top search box, then select Publication Title from drop-down menu on right. Enter search terms in boxes below, e.g., micheaux.

 

Individual Historical Publications (Magazines, Trade / Industry Journals

Remember - To find primary sources, remember you need to restrict your search result to documents published close to the time of your film or event. If they are published later, they are secondary sources.  

Below are some of the most common publications containing contemporaneous film reviews. Except where indicated, all are available online in their entirety.

Industry / Trade  Publications 

Variety 

  • (1905-2000, with some exceptions, ProQuest).
  • It may be useful to arrange the results chronologically (oldest first) in order to follow the entire production process of a particular film, from gossip about potential stars to reviews and box-office grosses.
  • Variety (1905-1949 only) also available via Media History Digital Library.

The Hollywood Reporter 

  • (1905-2015, with some exceptions, ProQuest), more current issues - view catalogue record
  • 1933-1934 (Media History Digital Library),  more current issues - view catalogue record
  • It may be useful to arrange the results chronologically (oldest first) in order to follow the entire production process of a particular film, from gossip about potential stars to reviews and box-office grosses.
  • You can submit Inter Library Loan requests using RACER for other issues. A scan of the article will be emailed to you so be sure to check that your email is up-to-date in RACER. 

Monthly Film Bulletin

  • (1934-1991, London UK, ProQuest).

Sight and Sound

  • (1932+, London UK, ProQuest)

Film Daily 

  • (1918-1948, via Media History Digital Library)
  • Also this publication is available from 1948+ on microfilm at Media Commons, (3rd Floor, Robarts Library)
  • Note: When searching within Film Daily (or anywhere within MHDL), use double quotes around phrases e.g., "scarlet street" OR "motion picture" OR "jackie coogan".
  • A small sampling of titles included in MHDL: American Cinematographer (1921-1942); Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (1930-1949); cont. by Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (1950-1954); Motion Picture [Magazine] (1914-1941); Photoplay (1914-1940).

Film Quarterly

Films and Filming 

  • (1956-1987) Print only at Robarts Library

Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers  

  • (1930-1958, Media Digital History)
  • The Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE) documents the technological progress of the film industry, highlighting technical developments in production and exhibition. 
  • Named Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers from 1916-1929, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers from 1930-1946, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers from 1946-current date

"Through the camera lens" : The Moving Picture World and the silent cinema era, 1907-1927. 

  • Moving Picture World reviewed current releases and published news, features, and interviews relating to all aspects of the industry. News items, the best reviews and feature articles, including advertisements published each week.
  • This digital collection of Moving Picture World for scholars interested in early years of American Cinema and its most important research tools include the film periodicals of the era, along with fan magazines and film company house journals.

Magazines 

Life Magazine

  • (1883-1936, New York, NY, ProQuest).

 

Women’s Magazine Archive

  • (ProQuest)
  • "An archive of American consumer women’s magazines dating from the 19th century through to the 21st. The resource includes complete issues of women’s titles including Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Essence, and serve as a record of evolving assumptions about gender roles and about women’s experiences."  

 

The Magazine Rack (Internet Archive Collection)

  • Be sure to use the date filters on the left side of the page.
  • "The Magazine Rack is a collection of digitized magazines and monthly publications."

Digital Search Platforms (Public Libraries, Archives & More)

Public Libraries 

Toronto Public Library - Digital Collections 

Search Page for all TPL Digital Collections.  

 

Digital Public Library of America 

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) pulls in digital records from archives, libraries and museums from across the United States. DPLA's collection is focused on freely available content that meet public domain and open access requirements. 

 

New York Public Library - Digital Collections 

The New York Public Library Digital Collections contains over 900,000 items and counting. While that is a small fraction of the Library's overall holdings, NYPL Digital Collections contains a diverse range of materials: books to videos, maps to manuscripts, illustrations to photos, and more.

 

Search Portals for Digital Collections (Archives, Cultural Institutions, etc.)

 

Library of Congress 

All LoC Digital Collections (sorted by Oldest Date first). 
  • Scroll through online collections containing digital copies of documents, images and videos

 

Calisphere - California Online Collections

Calisphere is a gateway to digital collections from California's great libraries, archives, and museums. Discover over 1,975,000 images, texts, and recordings—and counting.

  • View all collections discoverable via Calisphere 
  • Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection, Owning Institution: Los Angeles Public Library
    • "The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection contains images from the 1850s to the present, documenting all aspects of life in Southern California, with an emphasis on Los Angeles."
  • Los Angeles Examiner Collection, 1920-1961, Owning Institution: University of Southern California Digital Library
    • "The Los Angeles Examiner Photographs Collection consists of approximately 1.4 million prints and negatives from the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper. It was a daily newspaper, published in the afternoon on weekdays (Herald-Express) and in the morning on weekends (Examiner). The afternoon and morning papers merged in 1962 (Herald Examiner)."
  • California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960, Owning Institution: University of Southern California Digital Library
    • "The California Historical Society Collection is incomparable for the documentary picture it provides of the growth of Southern California, particularly the development of the Los Angeles region, between 1860 and 1960. The collection contains more than 25,000 photographs. The full archive was placed on long-term deposit at USC in 1990 and includes the Title Insurance and Trust Company Collection, also known as TICOR, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection.

 

 

Cross-search DPLA and Europeana

  • Online app that allows users to simultaneously search the digital collections in the Digital Public Library of America and Europeana.

 

International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA)

  • Based at at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the ICAA holds over 8,000 Documents of 20th and 21st⁠-⁠century art in Latin America, the Caribbean, and among US Latino communities  
  • Documents of Latin American and Latino Art - Search ICAA Collection

 

The World Digital Library  

  • Launched in 2009, the World Digital Library (WDL) was a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO, and contributions from libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations around the world. 
  • The materials collected by the WDL make it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures and significant historical documents including books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and films.