Friday, March 19, 2010

Vintage film magazines coming to a computer near you

"A goldmine for research" is the way film historian Leonard Maltin described it on his website, Movie Crazy. "Exciting news . . . I'm thrilled and am hopeful" was the response from experienced researcher and Valentino scholar Donna Hill. University of Arizona grad student Amanda Howard heard about it from a professor, "Wow, I've already found things I've never seen before."

What's the buzz all about?

Just the other day, David Pierce put out the word on Nitrateville about a new project  - called the Media History Digital Library - to digitize old trade and fan magazines and put them online. On Nitrateville, Pierce wrote:
I've been working on a project to digitize trade and fan magazines, and the first batch, from the collection of the Pacific Film Archive, is now on-line.

There are eight volumes (four years) of Photoplay, and one volume each of Motion Picture Classic (1920) and Moving Picture World (April-June 1913). Thanks to Nancy Goldman of the Pacific Film Archive for working with me on this group of materials.

As always with the Internet Archive, you can download high-quality PDFs, embed their viewer on your webpage, and download the original full-quality scans. 

I have grant funding to do much more (it costs about 10c per page) and am working with several other libraries and archives to coordinate scanning of material from their collections. . . . . I hope to do another batch of materials in the next few months.
This is indeed exciting news - and a future boon to film researchers. The brochure for the Media History Digital Library, which outlines this ambitious project, can be found at

The scanned texts found in the Media History Digital Library also offer something even the best library, with bound copies or microfilm of these publicaions, could never provide - the ability to do keyword searches! Here is a sample, just one of the handful of works already on-line.

If you’d like to contribute to the project, or if you have bound volumes of trade journals or periodicals you’d be willing to loan, contact David Pierce at

1 comment:

  1. It should be added that it is best to view these periodicals on the Internet Archive. (see link above) There the view screen is much larger than the sample screen shown here.