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Research Guides

Film Studies

Primary Source Research

Find primary sources that were created at the time under study. In film studies, a primary source could be the film itself or other materials representing the attitudes of the era including promotional advertisements, posters, pamphlets, images, manuscripts, poll of cinematographers, articles from contemporaneous magazines, newspapers as well as interviews with directors, screenwriters or movie personnel and the like.

Primary Sources

Finding Films


    • Examples of finding videos:
      • World war II and video recording 
      • Silent films and video recording 
      • German and motion picture and interview
    • Examples of finding books on a topic:
      • Lois Weber
      • Soviet montage
    • Other popular search terms:
      • Film Criticism, Motion pictures reviews, Film adaptations, Film genres, Silent films, Motion pictures and history, Motion pictures and literature, Women and motion pictures, Motion pictures and social.
  • American Memory Motion Pictures Collections
    • (Library of Congress) 1789- Over 7 million digital items such as written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music relating to the history and culture of America.

    • Examples:
      • Early films
      • Lois Weber 
      • World War posters
      • Women and film
  • BFI National Archive

    • Over 50,000 fiction films, over 100,000 non-fiction titles and around 625,000 television programs. The majority of the collection is British material but it also features internationally significant holdings from around the world.

  • BFI's Channel in YouTube
    • View hundreds of older films from BFI's collections with YouTube.

  • British Pathe
    • 1896 to 1970

    • British film archive including 3500+ hours of video, 12 million still images covering social history and entertainment.

  • European Films Gateway
    • Six million digital items including images, texts, sounds and videos

    • Example:

      • German and silent film

  • Moving Image Collections (MIC)
    • MIC contains 2 databases: Use Collection Explore to search the MIC Union Catalog, listing moving images collected and managed by participating organizations; Use Archive Explore to search for listing organizations that collect moving images.

Finding Historical Film Review

Finding Film Credits and Production Info

  • American Film Institute (AFI) Catalog
    • [AFI Catalog] 1893-1974, entries on 32,000+ American feature-length and 17,000 short films
  • Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
    • Contains film production information including actor, director, genre as well as film plots, credits, reviews, box office, promotional posters and trailers.
  • FIAF Treasures from Film Archives (Chadwick Healey)
    • Credits and holdings information for more than 407,000 silent-era films (features, short films, actualities and fictional works) in the collections of the major international film archives. Although most records in this database describe films made before 1929, the database includes a few silent works produced during the sound era.
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