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View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

History of Film in Special Collections: Home

This guide is intended to serve as a supplement to the Film & Media Studies guide, providing a basic listing of resources related to film history located in the manuscripts and rare books collections in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections.

Film Studies resources in manuscript collections

Detail of portrait of Thomas Armat, co-inventor of the Edison Vitascope. From the Thomas Armat papers, Booth Family Center for Special Collections.

Quigley Photographic Archive

The Quigley archive is, properly speaking, the photo “morgue” of Quigley Publications, active under various titles since 1915 in motion picture industry trade publishing (Motion Picture Herald, Motion Picture Daily, and others). Primarily an assemblage of publicity photos, the archive is a unique national resource for photographs of motion picture industry people: producers, directors, animators, and their colleagues. Actors and actresses figure less prominently, but are well represented among the approximately 55,000 black-and-white photographs and 3,500 negatives ranging in date from about 1906 to 1972. Of special interest also are smaller files of photographs devoted to motion picture studios, theaters, and equipment.

Gift of Martin S. Quigley, Jr. 1906-1972, ca. 220 linear feet.

Martin J. Quigley Papers

The Quigley papers document in some detail the creation and later history of the Production Code adopted in 1930 by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America as well as the formation and activities of the Legion of Decency, the Catholic Church’s organization that sought to exercise moral restraints on Hollywood productions. Among the more important correspondents are Joseph Breen, Will Hays, Howard Hughes, Eric Johnston, Stanley Kubrick, Archbishop John T. McNicholas, and Francis Cardinal Spellman. The original corrected typescript of the Production Code itself is supplemented by a number of typescript screenplays, including one for the film version of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita, and by material on the Legion of Decency in the papers of Wilfrid Parsons, S.J.

Gift of Martin S. Quigley. 1917-1970, 4.50 linear feet.

Terry Ramsaye Papers

The papers of the long-time (1931-1949) editor of Motion Picture Herald include correspondence, manuscripts, and information files covering virtually all aspects of the American motion picture industry from its beginnings to 1950. Assembled in part to document Ramsaye’s A Million and One Nights (1926) and his unpublished Shadow Play—The Pictures at Mid-Century, the files contain letters by Thomas Armat, Billy Bitzer (D. W. Griffith’s cameraman), Will Hays, and many others, as well as important photographic materials such as clips from early films (1895-1897) and portraits of cinema pioneers and early movie houses.

Gift of Helene Ramsaye. 1895-1986, 5.00 linear feet.

Thomas Armat Papers

Even though the group of Armat papers at Georgetown is little more than a fragment, Armat’s place in cinematographic history (as the inventor of the motion picture projector) makes them worthy of mention. Besides printed items and non-print memorabilia, the collection includes important letters to Armat from Thomas Edison and Orville Wright, among others.

Gift of Mrs. C. Brooke Armat. ca. 1911-1928, 0.25 linear feet.

Quigley Publications Archive

This collection comprises the most complete runs extant of Quigley publications: Motion Picture Herald and its antecedents (1915-1972); Motion Picture Daily (1930-1972); International Motion Picture (Television) Almanac (1930 to date); and Fame (1937-1970). Allied to these are a partial rough subject index to Motion Picture Herald; a complete card file index to film reviews published in Motion Picture Daily; and a card file containing mounted copies of reviews of features and shorts from Motion Picture Herald from about 1920 to 1972. The collection is backed up by complete microfilm versions of the major publications.

Department of Defense Film Collection 1

Department of Defense Film Collection 2

The collections consist of files from the liaison office of the Defense Department dealing with the film and television industry, including hundreds of scripts submitted to DOD in hopes of gaining official cooperation (loan of war material, primarily) or acceptance for work contracted out, together with relevant correspondence and internal DOD memoranda concerning action taken on specific requests. While the military-film industry connection is interesting, the eventual primary value of the collection will be in the many hundreds of film and television scripts themselves, which offer a detailed insight into the way Hollywood and the television industry have dealt with military themes and subjects over an extended time period.

Department of Defense Film Collection 1: 43.5 linear feet, 29 boxes.

Department of Defense Film Collection 2: 16.5 linear feet, 11 boxes.

Subject Guide

Ted Jackson's picture
Ted Jackson
Ted Jackson
Manuscripts Archivist
Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
(202) 687-7423

Related Collections in Booth Family Center for Special Collections

Rev. Daniel Lord, S.J. Papers

Daniel A. Lord, S.J., perhaps mid-20th century American Catholicism's most widely recognized producer of popular religious literature, was a prolific writer whose work reflected and responded to the sometimes brusque social upheavals and moral uncertainties of his times. Lord's concern with social well-being as he saw it, combined with his long-standing interest in and involvement with forms of popular entertainment, led him into a working relationship with Hollywood that culminated in his serving as consultant to Cecil B. DeMille's 'King of Kings,' and in his drafting of the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930.

1909-1956, 41 linear feet, 30 boxes.

America Magazine Archives

The unusually complete archives of America magazine and of its parent Jesuit community in New York provide a detailed history of this prominent Jesuit publication, beginning some years before the magazine’s first appearance in 1909. The interest and significance of the collection go well beyond literature alone. The collection is central to the record of Catholic history in the United States in this century. There are, for instance, considerable materials relating to the Spanish Civil War and to the affairs of the persecuted Catholic Church in Mexico. The correspondence files in the archives contain letters from virtually every American Catholic writer of note, as well as many English and European ones, including Louise Imogen Guiney, Jacques Maritain, Katharine Tynan, and Sigrid Undset. There are also letters and manuscripts from such non-Catholic writers as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

Gift of America Magazine ca. 1903-1995 d ca. 110.00 linear feet, 68 boxes.

Wilfrid Parsons, S.J. Papers

Prior to serving as the Director of Riggs Memorial Library and his subsequent career at Georgetown, Wilfrid Parsons was Editor-in-Chief of America magazine from 1925-1936. His papers contain letters and correspondence regarding the Legion of Decency, the film industry, and the Production Code. 

1904-1958, 19.5 linear feet, 15 boxes.

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