Film History to 1950

Course #: FS240

About this Guide

This guide was created for FS240 students. It includes information to help with the Nickelodeon Assignment.

Getting Started

  • Keep track of good sources when you find them by taking notes so that it will be easier to reference the sources later on
  • Start early to give yourself lots of time to search for primary sources
  • Tactics for searching within sources can help save time
    • Books -- use the table of contents to find relevant chapters and use the index to locate keywords in the text
    • PDFs -- use Ctrl+F to search for keywords in the text

Secondary Research

Check out Course Readings to get the location of secondary sources on reserve for EN240. Some of the readings will be online. For course reserves in the Library go to the Main Floor. Reserves are to the left of the front doors when you enter the building.

a. Finding Books
b. Finding Articles
  • Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text is a database to search for scholarly articles
    • Try "nickelodeon theaters" in the search box and use the drop-down to the right for "SU Subject Terms"
    • On the results page, limit to "Peer Reviewed" for scholarly articles
What is a Peer Reviewed Journal? (video:1:42)

Primary Research

a. Media History Digital Library

Media History Digital Library includes scanned historic documents about film, such as film industry trade journals and exhibitors' manuals. To find information about theater amenities, films, and promotional materials available during the North American nickelodeon period of growth (1905-1913) you can:

  • Browse film industry trade journals in the Early Cinema Collection
    • Moving Picture World (1907-1927)
    • The Nickelodeon (1909-1911)
    • Motion Picture News (1913-1930)
    • Variety (1905-1949)
    • The Film Index (1909-1911)
  • Search the Early Cinema Collection with Lantern (the search platform for Media History Digital Library)
    • Use the search box at the top of the page for a keyword search (e.g. Wurlitzer Automatic Piano-Organ)
      • Use the options on the left to limit your search by Collection (e.g. Early Cinema). You can also limit by Title, Date, or Format (e.g. Books)
b. Internet Archive

Internet Archive provides access to billions of digitized works.

  • To search for a known title (e.g. Motion Picture Making and Exhibiting), just enter the title in the search box
    • To quickly search for a keyword within a book, view the PDF version under Download Options
To search Internet Archive for sources using keywords, a few tactics will help you get better results.
  1. Use "quotation marks" around a keyword to search for an entire phrase (e.g. "motion picture theaters")
  2. Try an Advanced Search with a date range (e.g. 1905-1913)
  3. Use the options on the left of the results page to limit results by Media Type, Topics & Subjects, etc.

Find additional information about films on IMDB, such as runtimes.

Citing Sources in MLA, 8th Ed.

You'll find the MLA Handbook at Laurier Library (LB2369 .G53 2016).


Did you know you can have one-on-one or small group research consultations with your librarian? Drop in or make an appointment. Please get in touch, I'll be happy to help!