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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.

Specific Collections in this Platform

ProQuest  (1800-current date, depends on the publication)

ProQuest is a platform containing over 100 databases. ProQuest contains publications (i.e., newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, eBook titles, dissertation and theses) in different subjects areas including film. Remember you might find content in a non-film related resource from your time period, (i.e., newspapers, business or tech magazines)

Entertainment focused databases in ProQuest: 

  • Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive 
    • The core US and UK trade magazines covering film, music, broadcasting and theatre are included, together with film fan magazines and music press titles. Issues have been scanned in high-resolution colour, with granular indexing of articles, covers, ads and reviews from the era of vaudeville and silent movies through to the 21st century.
  • Performing Arts Periodicals Database
    • This database indexes around 400 scholarly and trade journals, magazines, books, and newspapers covering theatre, dance, film, television, stagecraft, broadcast arts, storytelling, and more.

Film Indexes

Film Indexes 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.

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.

Resources Types in ProQuest

ProQuest is a platform containing over 100s databases that hold a variety of  scholarly and popular publications, including: 

  • Feature, Article, Front Page/Cover Story,

  • Review (film or book review, sometimes restaurant)

  • Editorial (opinion pieces by Editor) Letters to Editor (opinions sent in by the public and printed in the publication)

  • Interview, Speech, Report

  • Advertisement, Classified, Obituaries, Marriage Notice 

  • Photo, Cartoon, Illustration

  • Book chapter, Dissertation & Theses, Literature Review

Search Basics for ProQuest - Boolean Operators & Modifiers

Use the Advanced Search Tool  

The Advanced Search Tool allows you to build your search with multiple keywords that you can combine with Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) from the dropdown menu between the search fields. 

Screen Shot ProQuest Advance Search with search terms "urban footprint" AND Toronto OR Ontario


Build your Search Strategies

Connect Search Terms with Boolean Operators 

Enter search terms on separate lines e.g., enter title of film on the top line, director's last name below, so as to articulate your search request. Use Boolean Operators to improve your search:

  • AND (narrows your search e.g., Paramount AND Hepburn)
  • OR (widens your search e.g., blacklist OR communist, MGM OR Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
  • NOT (exclude results that include this term e.g., talkies NOT hollywood) 
  • Quotations marks (search for specific phrases or exact wording, e.g., "Within our gates", "Audrey Hepburn", "studio system", "talkies")
  • Asterisk (wildcard truncation e.g., Canad* = Canada, Canadian, Canadians, Canadiana)
Experiement with Crafting Search Queries 
  • "Within our gates" AND Micheaux NOT Griffith
    • This query instructs a database or search engine to find resources with the film title and director's last name somewhere in text (the title, author, text of article), but narrow the search by excluding any content that mentions D.W. Griffith's last name. 
  • (blacklist OR communis*) AND (cinema OR film OR "motion picture" OR movie) 
    • This query instructs the database to look for resources that include blacklist or variations of the root word (communist, communism, communists) as well as one of the synonyms for film (so many options!).

Watch for Terminology Use at that Time

Remember that searching historical scans of publications you need to use the language that would be most appropriate for that time period. 

Sort and Filter Results - ProQuest


1) Sort your Results 

  • Sort your results (Relevance, Date) 
    • By Relevance: It is determined by an algorithm that factors in the number of time your search terms appear in the record as well as where in the record your search terms appear.
    • By Date: 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.
  • Learn more about ProQuest Search Results Page (ProQuest Guide)


2) Using ProQuest Filters for Primary Source Resources Screenshot of ProQuest Subject & Doc Type filters

  • Narrow your search results using filters on left sidebar. If you see Show more... at the bottom of the filter box, click to see all options. 
    • Full Text: Limit to items that ProQuest can provide the PDFs or Text. Be aware that ProQuest will often have links to items held by other vendors (look for a GET UTL! button)
    • Source Type
      • Newspapers, Trade Journals (Industry publications), Magazines, Historical Periodicals 
      • Books, Reports, Government & Official Publications‎, Pamphlets & Ephemeral Works‎, Archival Materials
      • Avoid academic resources (Scholarly Journals, Dissertations and Theses). Even though these resources were published during the time period, these are secondary sources.
      • Questions? contact your Librarian or CIN201 TA.  
    • Publication Year: 
      • Remember the requirement for CIN201 assignments (Assignment 2  = 1845-1968)
      • Click on 'Custom Date Range' and type in the year start and year end and click “Apply”.
      • Be aware - You might need to re-apply this filter if you are launching a new search.
      • Break up your search results into decades to see trends. 
    • Subject: Not always reliable for historical and non-scholary publications. It is possible to order the results alphabetically by clicking on 'Subject' at the top of the pop-up window. 
    • Document Type: Fantastic Filter for historical and current publications. 
      • Scholarly research articles - Feature, Front Page/Cover Story, Article, Literature Review (overview of research trends & findings on a topic), Case Study
        • Look for in-text citation and bibliographies  
      • Opinion articles - Review (e.g., book, film, resource), Editorial (written by the publication's editor), Letters to the Editor (written by the public and the publication decided to publish them), Commentary and Correspondence (These doc types are also typically written by the public) 
      • Interview
      • Advertisements, Classified Advertisements
      • Obituary, Marriage Notice, Legal Notice, Transcript, Stock Quote, Statistics/Data Report‎
      • Poem, Prose, Fiction, Recipe
      • Illustration‎, Image/Photograph‎, Editorial Cartoon/Comic 
    • Publication Title: If you have a lot of results, take a look at a particular publication (e.g., Variety).
      • Remember your 10 primary resources should come from a variety of sources.
      • Not sure about the publication? Click on the title to find out more about the reputation of publication. 
        • Trade Magazines: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, National Police Gazette 
        • Newspapers: The Globe and Mail, New York Times, Los Angeles Times
        • Magazines: Good Housekeeping, etc. 
    • Language 
  • Click on More filters link at the bottom of the filter menu to including: Location, Database, Person
See all the Filter Options using More+ link 

Several filters display a More+ link at the bottom that opens a pop up window containing all the filter options. 

  • Left column (Include, Exclude) - Use the Include or Exclude checkbox to narrow your search 
  • Centre column - Click on the heading in the centre column will reorder the list alphabetically.
  • Right column (Count) - Order the filter based on the number of articles tagged with filter options 
  • Click Apply to submit the search

screenshot of ProQuest Subject filter pop up window, highlighting Include header, Subject header and search button

Cite Sources

To view the full details of the citation, select 'Abstract/Details' link on the left-hand side.

You can also have ProQuest auto-generate a citation by selecting 'Cite' button on the top, right. Remember that auto-generated citations are not always accurate, and it is your responsibility to check for accuracy.


screen shot proquest item record highlighting View Abstract linkand Cite button

More ProQuestSearch Tips

Change Databases

ProQuest automatically searches all the databases within it. You can narrow your search by selecting "Change Databases" and unselecting databases you which to exclude from your searches. 

Once the databases you want to search are the only ones selected, select "Use Selected Databases".