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Black Film Center/Archive

Black Film Research Resources

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesMargaret Herrick Library
333 South La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 247-3020

The Margaret Herrick Library is a world-renowned, non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and an industry. Its holdings, amassed since 1928, include books, photographs, scripts, production records, correspondence, and much more.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesAcademy Film Archive
Pickford Center For Motion Pictures Study
1313 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Contact: Cassie Blake
Phone: (203) 247-3015 ext. 3380

Dedicated to the preservation, restoration, documentation, exhibition and study of motion pictures, the Academy Film Archive is home to one of the most diverse and extensive motion picture collections in the world.

Emory University Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL)
540 Asbury Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322
Phone: 404-727-6887

Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, & Rare Book Library (MARBL), which collects print material and ephemera related to many different aspects of African American history and culture. MARBL holds the extensive Hatch-Billops collection and the Delilah Jackson collection, which includes photographs, programs, and print ephemera documenting African American theater, dance, film, and music history.

The Hatch-Billops collection donated by Camille Billops and James V. Hatch includes: thousands of rare books, periodicals, posters, and pamphlets on African American history and culture; Interviews with over 1,200 cultural figures; Records of the Karamu Theater in Cleveland, OH; scripts of over 1,000 African American plays; and Paul Robeson files, featuring photographs, programs, and an extensive clippings file.

Library of Congress—Motion Picture & Television Reading Room
101 Independence Ave. SE
James Madison Building, LM 336, Washington, DC 20540-4690
Phone: (202) 707-8572
Fax: (202) 707-2371

In 1942, recognizing the importance of motion pictures and the need to preserve them as a historical record, the Library began the film collection. From 1949 on these included films made for television. Today the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS) 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. The MBRS houses the "Jazz on the Screen" collection: This searchable filmography documents the work of some 1,000 major jazz and blues figures in over 20,000 cinema, television and video productions.

Mayme Clayton Library Museum & Cultural Center Film Archives Western States Black Research and Educational Center
3617 Montclair Street, Los Angeles, CA 90018-2442
Phone: (626) 794-4677

Initially the independent collection and research center of Dr. Mayme A. Clayton, the MCLM is now an emerging, dynamic research center and archive located in Culver City. The collections include literature, manuscripts, film, and ephemera that chronicle the diversity of African American experience in the arts, entertainment, sports, medicine, architecture, politics, religion, law, and family life.   Notably, the collection houses the film library of black film studio, Lincoln Moving Pictures Company. The film archive contains over 700 film titles from 1916 in 16mm, 35mm, VHS, and DVD formats. Rich in pre-1959 black films, MCLM's Film and Recorded Sound Archives features rare silent reels and films by Oscar Micheaux, considered America's preeminent early independent African-American filmmaker.

New York Public Library—Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037-1801
Phone: (212) 491-2236

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located in Harlem, New York, is a research unit of The New York Public Library system. It is recognized as one of the leading institutions focusing exclusively on African-American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The Moving Image and Recorded Sound (MIRS) Division documents the experiences of peoples of African descent, as they have been captured via audiovisual technology that includes motion picture film (released prints and outtakes), video recordings, and music, and spoken arts recordings in several formats.

Smithsonian Archives CenterNational Museum of American History
12th, 14th & Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20560-0601
Phone: (202) 633-3270
TDD: (202) 357-1729
Fax: (202) 786-2453

The Archives Center holds more than 1,300 collections documenting the history of technology, invention and innovation, business and consumer culture, American music, and popular culture, including extensive paper and audio-visual materials on histories of advertising and jazz. To name just a few of the expansive offerings, their holdings include the Norman and Sally Coe Scopitone Film Collection, circa 1962-1970, Community Life Afro-American Audio-Visual Collection, 1974-1976, Gordon Hendricks Motion Picture History Paper, circa 1895-1970, The Duke Ellington Collection, and the Program in African American Culture Collection, 1979-1986. Holdings are searchable through their website and through the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS).

Smithsonian National Museum of African American Culture and History
1400 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is busy creating its foundational collections. These collections will contribute to the museum's research, exhibitions, and programs and be a part of the museum's opening exhibitions in the new building. The mission of the NMAAHC is to collect and preserve artifacts, documents, and art that reflect the history and development of the African American experience in its many aspects. The museum's foundational collections will be representative, featuring items from all regions of the United States. Artifacts and artwork that reflect the historical and cultural links of African Americans to the African Diaspora, such as in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Canada, will also be collected. Cultural material being collected by the museum includes works of art, historical artifacts, photographs, moving images, archival documents, electronic data, audio recordings, books and manuscripts. NMAAHC now has more than 1,000 collection items in the Smithsonian Collections Search Center.

Southern Methodist University Hamon Arts LibraryG. Williams Jones Film & Video Collection
Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library
6101 N. Bishop Blvd. Dallas, TX 75205
Phone: (214) 768-2000

The Collection’s primary purpose is to support education through the study, preservation, and presentation of moving images. To this end, the Collection maintains moving images in a wide variety of formats, examples of related equipment, print materials associated with moving images, and a climate-controlled storage facility. Current holdings include over 9,000 film prints and negatives, over 3,000 videotapes, and antique film equipment.

The Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection, featured within the G. Williams Jones Film & video collection, comprises 6 short subjects, 9 features, and a set of newsreels, all produced between 1935 and 1956. The African-American films include comedies, dramas, news, and musical performances, and were made outside the Hollywood system by pioneering directors and producers such as Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, and William Alexander. Movies from the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection are digitally available as streaming video files.

UCLA Film and Television Archive
302 East Melnitz, Box 951323, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1323
Phone: (310) 206-5388

UCLA Film & Television Archive's collection includes over 300,000 films and television programs, over 100,000 News and Public Affairs (NAPA) programs, and over 2,000 radio programs. The Archive holds many film and television titles by and about African Americans, including some of Oscar Micheaux’s “race movies,” 1940s “soundies” featuring Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, and Lena Horne, and the films of the “LA Rebellion.” The “LA Rebellion” refers to a group of African and African American students who entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an “Ethno-Communications” initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color in the late 1960s. A significant portion of the work produced by this group of filmmakers, including UCLA student films, independent shorts, theatrically-released motion pictures and television projects—as well as select interviews—is available for onsite research viewing by appointment at the Archive Research and Study Center.

UCLA Library Special CollectionsCharles E. Young Research Library
A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
Phone: (310) 825-4988

UCLA Library Special Collections inspires discovery, cultivates knowledge, advances research, and preserves cultural heritage to create a distinctive learning environment for the UCLA community and society at-large. We welcome researchers to explore our collections of rare books, archives, manuscripts, oral histories, and other materials and to utilize our services.

The Department of Special Collections unit of the UCLA Libraries Collection holds the
George P. Johnson Negro Film Collection, 1916-1977 that consists of materials related to early African American film companies, films with African American casts, and musicians, sports figures and entertainers.

USC Cinema ArtsDoheny Memorial Library
University Park Campus
3550 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0185
Phone: (213) 740-3994

The USC Cinematic Arts Library is a multimedia archive dedicated to the collection and preservation of materials related to motion picture production ranging from the raw materials to the finished products. The Louis B. Mayer Study center offers a viewing collection of almost 13,000 motion picture and television titles in DVD, Laser disc, and VHS formats. In addition to an extensive book collection, the library also holds extensive collections on the history of the film industry and contains many rarely seen photographs, as well as scripts, scores and other artifacts. The library also hosts the David L. Wolper Center for the Study of the Documentary.

Washington University Film & Media Archive
One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1061
St. Louis, MO 63130
Phone: (314) 935-8679
Fax: (314) 935-6362

The Film & Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis opened its doors to the public in September 2002. The Archive houses rare and unique collections of film, videotape, audiotape, manuscripts, including scripts, storyboards, and other materials related to Civil Rights, African-American life, the history of Harlem, social justice, democracy and the arts.
The Archive's inaugural acquisition was the Henry Hampton/ Blackside Collection. The Hampton Collection consists primarily of material collected in connection with the various documentary films made by the late Henry Hampton, a 1961 graduate of Washington University, and his production company Blackside, Inc. The acquisition attracted other African-American documentary collections, including the William Miles Collection, which includes the outtakes, photos, music, stock photos, and research from the New York-based filmmaker’s productions.

Yale UniversityBeinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Phone: (203) 432-2977

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is Yale University's principal repository for literary papers and for early manuscripts and rare books in the fields of literature, theology, history, and the natural sciences. Beinecke Library also houses the James Weldon Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters; recent acquisitions include promotional photographs from the feature films Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli, 1943) and Hallelujah! (King Vidor, 1929).

Notably, Beinecke holds the Solomon Sir Jones Films, 1924-1928 collection. Solomon Sir Jones, Baptist minister, businessman, and amateur filmmaker, was born in Tennessee to former slaves and grew up in the South before moving to Oklahoma in 1889.The Solomon Sir Jones films consist of 29 silent black and white films documenting African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928

Yale Film Study Center
53 Wall Street, Room B17, New Haven, CT 06511
Phone: (203) 432-0148
Fax: (203) 432-4079

The Yale Film Study Center, an Affiliate of the International Federation of Film Archives, is committed to preserving and providing access to resources for the scholarly study and appreciation of cinema. The collection includes more than 21,000 DVDs, 1000 Blu-rays, and 6,000 VHS tapes. The film archive contains nearly 5,000 35mm and 16mm prints. The study center also holds over 100 published screenplays.


Online Resources

African Americans in Motion Pictures, the Past and Present (Long Island University)

An extensive online bibliography of sources relevant to African American film history compiled from the personal collection of Melvin R. Sylvester and the C.W. Post Library Collection. The site includes articles from popular media sources (e.g. Vibe, Ebony, Newsday) in addition to scholarly books and articles on African Americans in film and media.

African Americans in the Movies, a Bibliography of Materials (UC Berkeley)

An online reference guide of books and articles relevant to the study of African Americans in film and television. The bibliography also includes citations (some annotated) for subjects such as Blaxploitation films and the African American image in Animated cartoons.

African Film Library (YouTube)

A YouTube channel offering a curated selection of African films available for free online viewing.

African Women in Cinema Blog

The African Women in Cinema Blog provides a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

ArtMattan Productions

ArtMattan Productions distributes films that focus on the human experience of black people in Africa, the Caribbean, North and South America, and Europe. Films in the catalog have all screened at ArtMattan’s annual African Diaspora Film Festival in New York, launched in 1993.

Black Film Research Online (University of Chicago)

Black Film Research Online (BFRO) is a resource guide for the study of Black film culture. The BFRO defines Black film culture quite broadly to include the works of Black filmmakers from across the African Diaspora; the production, distribution, and exhibition of films by, for and about Blacks; issues of Black spectatorship and reception; and images of Black people in film from the invention of the medium in the late 19th century to the present. The site includes: contacts and links to archive and library collections that feature Black subjects for scholarly and commercial use, or general interest; academic research on black cinema, including publications, conferences, and course syllabi; internet-based resources on Black cinema, including databases, memorabilia dealers, general Black-interest sites, and organizations for Black filmmakers and enthusiasts; film and video festivals that feature Black cinema; booking information for black filmmakers; and resources for finding and viewing film and video titles, including television and internet distribution, as well as distributors and individual film sites.

Black Movie Awards

The BMA was created to recognize and bring greater attention to the creative contributions made to cinema by people of African descent as well as to give merit to outstanding films portraying the Black experience.

Cinemas et Audiovisuels Africains

Going to the Show—Mapping Moviegoing in North Carolina

Going to the Show documents and illuminates the experience of movies and moviegoing in North Carolina from the introduction of projected motion pictures (1896) to the end of the silent film era (circa 1930). Supporting its documentation of more than 1300 movie venues across 200 communities is a searchable archive of thousands of contemporaneous artifacts: newspaper ads and articles, photographs, postcards, city directories, and 150 original architectural drawings.

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive

June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive

Library of Congress—Black Film Paper Print Collection

A listing of titles in the LOC’s Black film paper print collection, as well of a listing of Black films listed with AFI not yet available at the Library of Congress. Includes features, shorts, documentaries, and newsreels.

National Film and Video Foundation—South Africa

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) film library is a searchable online resource list of South African films. The NFVF is an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture that was created to ensure the equitable growth of South Africa's film and video industry. They provide funding for film development, production and distribution, and offer training and education programs for filmmakers.