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Film Studies: Primary sources for historical film research

This guide is an introduction to the resources for Film Studies at Dartmouth. If you are interested in Television, see the separate research guide for Television.

Getting started

Primary resources are first person accounts of events. The recounting may be an autobiography, an interview, a diary or corporate documents. Newspapers, magazines and journals published during the time you are researching are also primary documents.

Film indexes

The American Film Institute Catalog covers the time period 1893 to the present. This catalog is exclusively American films. Film Index International is the British Film Institute's catalog. This catalog is international in scope and covers 1900 through the present. Both catalogs include citations to reviews, industry and scholarly articles about the films. These bibliographies are good starting places for finding information about specific films.

Newspapers

  1. Major metropolitan newspapers are a good source for movie reviews and information.
  2. You can also limit your searching to "reviews" in most of this group of databases.
  3. These newspaper archives go back before the early days of film making them an excellent source of information for early filmmaking.

Other library source(s)

Any and all newspapers, directories, yearbooks, magazines and journals published during the time period you are researching are primary sources. Some examples follow:

Production Code Administration

Primary sources

To find primary sources relating to film, you can do a keyword search for "s:sources and s:motion pictures." Click here to see the entire list of items in the online catalog. Check the online catalog for locations. The guides to these collections may be in a different place.

Keeping up with Communication journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Communication? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's you can download and read the articles you want.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's now available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.