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FILM 301 500 - Introduction to Film History   Tags: classguide  

Last Updated: Apr 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
Getting Started Print Page

Overview & Search Tips

(1) Film history
- is a good starting point to find books on film history. Keywords like film history and introduction, german? cinema and 1920s should work fine. Another good search term to use is - motion pictures. Combine it with your topics. For example, motion pictures and war. When viewing a libcat record, change the default "Brief View" to "Long View" to view Table of Content or other details. is another good source for books (try - soviet montage). Also see useful websites for a list of films by decade and a good overview of Hollywood as History in UH's digital history site.

American history of the 20th century - Libcat and Worldcat are good search tools for this topic as well. An excellent database is America: History and Life; (3) Thesis for the paper (see your course notes). As for coming up with a thesis, one approach is to browse though what have been published on a given topic. International Index to the Performing Arts Full Text may be a good starting point (try - hollywood and race). Another good database is Periodicals Archive Online

(3) Reviews, older reviews, critical analysis
- Film reviews published in magazine or newspaper are usually shorter in length. Their purpose is to inform but not to provide in-depth analysis. Older reviews may be found from Readers Guide Retrospective, ProQuest Historical Newspapers , ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006), Variety Film Reviews (in print) or other archival sources. The contemporary reviews can be found by using Film Literature Index Online, MLA, Film Indexes Online or other databases. The critical or scholarly reviews may describe, analyze or critique a film in a historical, political, social, psychological, philosophical or other aspects. The easiest way to filter out those non-scholarly materials from your search results is to use the "Scholarly/Peer-reviewed" filter. However, not all databases offer this feature.

(4) Quality sources - Works by professors, researchers, historians or published by a respected publishing house like Random House or university press would be considered to be a quality source. Some databases like Worldcat and EBSCO databases, for example, will display the authors who have published most in a given topic along with the search results. Google Scholar offers a "Cited By" feature to show the impact of a particular work, or you could use an all-scholarly database like Arts and Humanities Citation Index (try - Hollywood and war).

Full text - Click on the fulltext@tamu link to get full text online. If not available online, you may be able to get a photocopy from the printed journals in the library. If not available in print, you could use Get It for Me to obtain it from another institution.

(6) Ebooks - You could also use the Library's e-books search to find books on a desired topic. The same search tool will also allow you to perform multiple databases searching for journal articles. To do that, select one of the categories relevant to Film History - Performing Arts, History, or Language/Literature.


Film History Search

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.

I. Finding Films

    • 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.
      E.g. - 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.
      (Note: How to cite a film watched online? See the citation guide at the bottom of the page)

    • 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
      E.g. german* AND silent film

II. Finding Historical Film Reviews

     Reprints of Original Reviews

  • Variety Film Reviews (1907-1984)  Reference, 1st floor, Evans Library  Call# PN1993 .V36
  • The New York Times Encyclopedia of Film  Reference, 1st floor, Evans Library Call# PN1993 .N465 1984

III. Finding Film Credits and Production Info

  • American Film Institute Catalog [AFI Catalog]   
    entries on 32,000+ American feature-length and 17,000 short films produced from 1893-1974
  • 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 (Chadwyck 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.



Secondary sources describe, analyze or critique primary sources. In film studies, commentaries, reviews, biographies, encyclopedias and journal articles are some of the examples of secondary source.

I. Finding Critical / Scholarly Reviews

II. History/Literature/Arts/Sociology/Political Science

  • America: History and Life (EBSCO) 
  • 19th Century Masterfile
    Over 60 subject indexes to Periodicals, Newspapers, Books, US Congressional Record, US and UK Government Documents and more   
  • Art Full Text (Wilson) (Index from 1984, abstract 1994, & fulltext 1997) 
    Articles from periodicals published throughout the world with selected full-text coverage, including periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins
  • Essay & General Literature Index  (1985-present)
    History, psychology, religion, political science to folklore, film, music, drama, and literature
  • LexisNexis Academic  Previous 10 years to present  
    covering thousands of national and regional periodicals, trade journals and newspapers. Search path:
    News > Source > Book, movie, music, play and video reviews






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