History of Narrative Cinema

Introductory guide to conducting historical research on narrative film.

Major Film & Television Archives in New York

Collections Outside NY

Archival moving image collections are held throughout the world, including "mixed" archives where audiovisual materials are housed alongside print manuscripts. The list below is a selection of major film and television archives, including a few more general search tools.

Archives

Studio Archives

The following is a working list of known locations with significant print archival holdings documenting specific studios, including those collections not held in publicly accessible institutions. However, the papers of individuals (actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, costumers, etc.) connected with specific studios may also be available in other locations throughout the country, and are not listed here. Suggestions and information leads for this list are encouraged!

CBS: UCLA holds music-related manuscripts, books, printed music, sound recordings and business papers relating to CBS productions from 1955-1983. Finding aid is available.

Disney:  Disney maintains an extensive in-house archive, but it is not open to the public. UCLA owns some publicity ephemera from 1938-1980s.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM): There is no fully centralized or comprehensive archive available for MGM, and unfortunately some of the studio's archival records were likely discarded. For instance, all of its musical material, including orchestra arrangements and parts, were discarded in the late 1960s. However, some content is available at USC, the Margaret Herrick Library (art, legal, production, and wardrobe departments, as well as scripts), UCLA Performing Arts Special Collections (architectural set plans, scripts, the studio's in-house research library collection), and the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Paramount: The most extensive institutional holdings from Paramount are housed at the Margaret Herrick Library, including production records, scripts, press sheets, and contract summaries. The studio also has an in-house archive not open to the public, including many musical scores.

Republic Pictures: Some archival materials available at USC

RKO: The RKO studio collection (1922-1956) is housed at UCLA Performing Arts Special Collections, including scores, daily production reports, story submission cards, payroll cards, scripts, and story synopses. Some specific collection information is available via a finding aid.

Sony: Sony also owns Columbia and Tristar. The studio has an in-house archive, and is not open to the public. UCLA houses some Columbia scripts.

20th Century Fox: Some archives are still located at the studio and are not open to the public, including many stills. The in-house working Fox Research Library is still open and may be available to serious researchers who call in advance; however, it does not collect the archives of the studio, instead serving the research needs of Fox employees. Some Fox production material (including scripts) is available at  UCLA and USC, though restrictions apply for access to certain contents.

United Artists: Some UA archival records are located at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, including corporate ledgers.

Universal: The most extensive archives are located at the studio and in other remote locations, but are not open to the public. Some material is available at USC, and the Margaret Herrick Library houses a collection of trailer scripts.

Warner Bros.: Most Warner Bros. archives are held at USC, covering studio inception to 1968. Also includes the William Schaefer ledger, which covers film grosses from 1921-1967. Some materials (mostly scripts) are held at the University of Wisconsin, and UCLA Performing Arts Special Collections houses some Warner Bros. silent film music scores.

Pressbooks

At Temple University Libraries:

Our Blockson collection has pressbooks for specific films.

CineFiles.  Exhibitor Manuals.  A digital collection from the Pacific Film Archives.

Cinema pressbooks from the original studio collections:  see title list here.  

Cinema pressbooks 1920-1940, 774 pressbooks from the British Film Institute archives, on microfiche.  See the title list below.

More Documents and Primary Sources