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Film Studies Research Guide: Archives & Institutes

A guide to conducting research in Film Studies at Yale University, including key resources and crucial search strategies.

How to Find Film Archives and Institutes

What's Here


The resources listed below will help you locate collections of film and videos, film stills and photos, archival and manuscript materials, and other primary sources.  The page has two parts:

  1. Databases to help you find archives and collections
  2. A list of selected film archives

For information about how to find individual films and videos, see Finding Films and Videos at Yale and Beyond.

 

For information on finding primary sources in general, see Primary Sources at Yale.

 


Locate Archives and Collections


When you look for archives, be aware that you will encounter two types of records.

  • Collection records describe whole collections or specific portions of collections of primary source material related to individuals, major events, places, organizations and so forth. These records give bibliographic descriptions of collections.
  • Finding aids (also called collection guides) are detailed inventories that reveal where a particular collection came from, how it's organized, and what it contains.  For instance, a finding aid may tell you that drafts of a particular screenplay are in Box 42, Folder 3, of the Alan Smithee Papers.

Archive Finder

A directory of over 206,000 collections of primary source material housed in repositories across the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

ArchiveGrid

ArchiveGrid contains close to half a million descriptive records of archival collections with a growing range of online finding aids or detailed collection guides and inventories. It contains both collection records and finding aids.

For an extensive list of reference sources, search Orbis with the following subject headings:

  • Film archives
  • Motion picture film collections
  • Motion pictures--Archival resources

Selected Film Archives and Collections Around the World

 

You Can't Have Everything. From the Crawford Collection, Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives.

American Film Institute Louis B. Mayer Library

The only national arts organization devoted to film, television and video. The American Film Institute serves as a point of national focus and coordination for the many individuals and institutions concerned with the moving image as art.

American Memory Project

Developed by the Library of Congress, this is a searchable database that includes motion picture collections, such as the Edison Companies and Early Animated Films, and there are films on special topics, including "Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916", "Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film", "America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915", "The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures" and more.

Anthology Film Archives

An international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video with a particular focus on American independent and avant-garde cinema and its precursors found in classic European, Soviet and Japanese film. The website has information on the archives which includes regular screenings of works in their two NYC theaters.

Archive.org: Public domain films online

This library contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download.

Les archives du cinéma et de la télévision. Dirigé par Michel Serceau et Philippe Roger; préface de Jean Noël Jeanneney. Condé-sur-Noireau: Corlet; [Paris]: Télérama: INA, 2000.

SML, Stacks PN1993.4 A72 2000

Archives françaises du film

The AFF is part of the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC). The site includes a searchable database. Many of the films in its collections have been digitized and may be viewed at the Bibliothèque nationale du France.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image

ACMI, located in Melbourne, Australia, is a state-of-the-art facility for the exhibition, promotion and preservation of screen content from Victoria (Aus.), Australia and around the world. It is about the moving image in all its forms - film, television, games, video and digital media. ACMI features the world's largest screen gallery (over 1500 square metres), and the largest public lending collection of moving image for ACMI members.

[Australian] National Film and Sound Archive

Collecting, preserving and providing access to Australia's audiovisual heritage.

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The PFA collection includes more than 10,000 titles, with areas of concentration in Soviet silent and Eastern European cinema, international animation, American experimental cinema, video art of the '70s, and the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan. The collection also includes an international selection of feature films and documentaries. Among the artists represented are Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Larissa Shepitko, Dziga Vertov, Gunvor Nelson, Chick Strand, and George Kuchar. PFA has identified the preservation of independent and experimental film as institutional priorities, concentrating efforts on works by Bay Area filmmakers. It has a searchable database with over 6,600 records.

Bibliothèque du Film

BiFi is the main center for documents on movies in France.  In 2007 it merged with the Cinémathèque Française (see below).

Bibliothèque nationale de France's list of archives and film centers worldwide

Very extensive coverage of all continents.

Black Film Center/Archive

A diverse collection of over 800 historic and contemporary Hollywood and independent films; black & white and color, silent and sound; features, documentaries, dramatic and musical shorts, comedy shorts, newsreels and animations in 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, DVD, and videocassette formats.

British Film Institute

The British Film Institute is the UK national agency with responsibility for encouraging the arts of film and television and conserving them in the national interest.  It includes highly extensive archives of materials from around the world.

British Pathé

This collection includes news, sports, entertainment and more.  The online database allows searches and orders to their database and from their archive collection. See also Gaumont Pathé, the French equivalent.

Cinémathèque française

The Cinémathèque Française hosts the largest archive of films, movie documents, and film-related objects in the world. The Bibliothèque du Film (see above) merged with the Cinémathèque Française in 2007.

Crawford Theater Collection, Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives

The Crawford Theater Collection at Yale contains numerous film stills (such as the ones used throughout this guide) as well as materials on theater.  The link above will open the online finding aid.

Deutsches Filminstitut

DIF is the oldest cinematic institution in Germany and also one of the country's largest.

Directory of archival collections on the history of film in the United States. Matzek, Richard A., ed. (United States: s.n., 1983).

BEINECKE Reference PN1993.4 M36

FIAF International Index to Film/TV

This database contains credits and holdings information for more than 407,000 silent-era films (features, short films, actualities and fictional works, mainly from before 1929) in the collections of the major international film archives.

Film researcher's handbook: a guide to sources in North America, South America, Asia, Australasia and Africa. (London: Routledge, 1996)

SML Reference Z5784 M9 F553 1996 (LC)

A comprehensive reference guide to international film and video libraries, archives and collections.

Footage: North American film and video sources. (New York: Prelinger Associates, 1989-).

SML Reference PN1993.4 +F66

FOCAL International (Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries International)

International professional trade association representing film/audiovisual libraries, professional film researchers, producers and others working in the industry.  The website provides assistance in finding footage and facilities.

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film

George Eastman House collects and interprets images, films, literature, and equipment in the disciplines of photography and motion pictures -- and it cares for the George Eastman legacy collections -- to inspire discovery and learning for a regional, national, and international audience." Located in in Rochester, NY.

Getty Images Film Collections

There are three main film collections on Getty Images Creative: Image Bank Film, Archive Films, and Universal Studios. All three are rights-managed. There are also several royalty-free collections. The site provides searches, downloads, and purchases of multiple royalty-free and rights-protected brands.

Handbook for Film Archives. Bowser, Eileen and John Kuiper, eds. (New York: Garland, 1991).

SML Stacks, LC Classification PN1993.4 H3X 1991

Harvard Film Archive

The HFA has a collection of 35 and 16mm material for almost 14,000 titles, as well as many posters and documents, accessible to faculty and students at Harvard as well as to outside researchers.

International Federation of Film Archives

The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) brings together institutions dedicated to rescuing films both as cultural heritage and as historical documents. Founded in Paris in 1938, FIAF is a collaborative association of more than 120 film archives in over 65 countries whose purpose has always been to ensure the proper preservation and showing of motion pictures.

Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Reading Room

The Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (M/B/RS) has responsibility for the acquisition, cataloging and preservation of the motion picture and television collections. The Division operates the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room to provide access and information services to an international community of film and television professionals, archivists, scholars and researchers.

Moving History: A Guide to UK film and television archives in the public sector.

A research guide to the United Kingdom’s twelve public sector moving image archives.

Museum of Modern Art: Film & Media Collections

MOMA's collection includes more than 22,000 films and 4,000,000 film stills. It has strongest international film collection in the United States, including original negatives of the Biograph and Edison companies, and the world's largest collection of D.W. Griffith films.

Museum of the Moving Image

The Museum of the Moving Image is dedicated to educating the public about the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media and to examining their impact on culture and society. It collects, preserves, and provides access to moving-image related artifacts, and it offers various types of public programming.

Northeast Historic Film: A Moving Image Archive

NHF collects and preserves film and videotape relating to northern New England, with a theater and study center located in Bucksport, Maine. The archive includes home movies, television news film and other broadcast productions, independent works, industrials, dramas, and other edited and unedited moving images.

Open Directory: Film and Media Museums and Archives

 

The researcher's guide: film, television, radio and related documentation collections in the UK. London: British Universities Film & Video Council, 2006.

SML Reference PN1993.4 R47 2006

San Francisco Film Museum

SFFM is a new non-profit organization devoted to promoting the film community in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

Sources for the History of Film, Television and Theatre. Great Britain. National Register of Archives Information Sheet No. 7.

Sources for the history of film, television and theater.

Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive

The Spielberg Archive is the world's largest collection of Jewish/Israeli documentary material. Located in Jerusalem.

UCLA Film and Television Archive

Containing over 220,000 films and television programs, and 27 million feet of newsreel footage, the UCLA Film and Television Archive contains materials dating back to the 1890s, and it includes one of the largest and most respected repositories of television programming in the world

University of Chicago Film Studies Center

The Film Studies Center (FSC) is a facility dedicated to the teaching and study of motion pictures and related media at the University of Chicago.

Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research

WCFTR maintains over three hundred manuscripts collections from playwrights, television and motion picture writers, producers, actors, designers, directors and production companies. Materials preserved include fifteen thousand motion pictures, television shows and videotapes, two million still photographs and promotional graphics, and several thousand sound recordings. WCFTR collections on the American film industry are richest for 1930 through 1960.

World directory of moving image and sound archives. Klaue, Wolfgang. München, New Providence : K.G. Saur, 1993.

SML Reference PN1993.4 W68X 1993

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Todd Gilman
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