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Introducing the Magic Lantern and Lantern Slide Catalog Collection!

We are excited to announce the availability of a new digital collection on our site: the Magic Lantern and Lantern Slide Catalog Collection!

The magic lantern (also known as optical lantern or stereopticon) is much older then the MHDL’s search platform that bears a similar name. Fundamentally, the magic lantern is a projection device: a slide is projected with the help of lenses, condensers and artificial light onto a screen, wall, or other opaque surface. First mentioned by Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens in 1659, it developed into one of the most popular optical media to entertain and instruct. Early film projectors could be seen as a direct “derivative”, adding a “kinetoscope attachment” while using the magic lantern as light source. The slide projector and digital beamer with its corresponding slides or PowerPoint presentations can be seen as its successors.


Since its invention, the magic lantern was used for entertainment, education, research and as a children’s toy. They amused and instructed young and old, poor and rich. Traveling entertainers and lecturers brought the lantern to peasants in the village and citizens in town. Slides were used for a variety of occasions: on fairgrounds and in private homes, in theaters and churches, in society club houses and community halls, in venues for popular education, and in schools and university lecture halls. Hence the incredibly rich slide collections that can be found in museums and archives, in the cellars of university buildings and in the attics of religious convents.

Magic lantern and lantern slide distribution catalogs are rare items and mostly held in private collections. These catalogs can help archivists and collectors to identify magic lanterns and lantern slides and they also enrich knowledge of the development of the apparatus and projection technology. The illustrations give insight into the way in which the apparatus worked and what lantern slides, lanterns and accessories such as light sources, special lenses and projection equipment looked like.

The promotional tone in the descriptions, although not to be taken at face value, tells us a lot about audience expectations, the intentions of producers, the work of lanternists and technological problems (that the advertised apparatus had supposedly solved).

This collection was initiated by the European research project “A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning”. Many researchers, collectors, and archivists came together to make this material digitally available. Special thanks go to Sarah Dellmann and Derek Long for their instrumental roles in bringing this MHDL collection to life.

This collection will continue to grow and expand until Spring of 2018. Additional catalogs in all languages and from all contexts are more than welcome — just contact us!

Digital Close Up (1927-1933) and the SCMS Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award

We have two exciting pieces of news about the Media History Digital Library to share.

First, we are honored that Lantern, the search and visualization platform for the Media History Digital Library, will receive the Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award at the 2014 Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference (SCMS) in Seattle. This is the first time the award has gone to a digital project instead of a book. We are grateful to the awards committee for regarding Lantern as a significant scholarly contribution to the field of Film and Media Studies, not simply an online content resource.

Close Up (1927-1933): Cinema and ModernityAs Lantern's lead developer Eric Hoyt explains in his blog post on Antenna, this award is especially meaningful because Eric knew Anne Friedberg when he was a graduate student at the University of Southern California. Friedberg was a highly respected film historian and theorist who passed away in 2009. She believed in the transformative power of digital scholarship and understood the importance of film and media magazines. In the late-1990s, Friedberg co-edited the anthology Close Up (1927-1933): Cinema & Modernism, which curated selections from the important film magazine Close Up with accompanying introductions and analyses by Friedberg and co-editors James Donald and Laura Marcus.

It is our great pleasure to announce that the complete 1927-1933 run of Close Up is now accessible at the MHDL and completely searchable within Lantern. You can find it on the MHDL’s homepage and Global Cinema Collection. The magazine was scanned and sponsored by the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation.

Esienstin in Close Up Close Up was a hybrid publication in many ways — an English-language periodical, which was published in Switzerland, bridging the art, literary, and film worlds. Edited by Bryher and her husband Kenneth Macpherson, Close Up became the magazine for energetic debates about the nature of cinema and manifestos imagining new forms of filmmaking and spectatorship. The magazine published articles by filmmakers, such as Sergei Eisenstein, and female modernist writers, such as H.D. and Gertrude Stein. As Friedberg explains, “Close Up became the model for a certain type of writing about film — writing that was theoretically astute, politically incisive, critical of films that were simply ‘entertainment.’ For six and a half years, Close Up maintained a forum for a broad variety of ideas about the cinema; it never advocated a single direction of development, but rather posed alternatives to existing modes of production, consumption, and film style.” Like Friedberg’s own books, Close Up continues to be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of film and media theory.

Friedberg was very interested in how our experience of media objects changes depending on how we view them. This has gotten us curious about the differences between experiencing Close Up in original print form, a reprinted anthology, and digital form. If you have thoughts about how the experience of Close Up changes across different forms, reply to us on the MHDL blog or Facebook and let us know.

More, many more, trade papers lay in store for the month of February. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, enjoy Close Up.

Eric Hoyt & David Pierce

New Year’s at the Movies

Admission prices for 2013 New Year’s Eve shows, parties, and performances soared in cost. A look through the December 1941 issues of Film Daily confirms that the New Year’s holiday has been big business in the entertainment industry for a very long time.





The drop in attendance for theater shows following US involvement in WWII was coupled with a rise in patrons gathered around radios at nightclubs and bars, resulting in what one Film Daily article calls “business of almost New Year’s Eve proportions.”

Another nod to the importance of New Year’s Eve business in entertainment is highlighted as early as May in this 1938 issue.


 These issues are available for you to search, read, and download. Your donation to the Media History Digital Library make this open resource possible. Thank you.




Magazine of the Week – The New York Clipper (December 1919)

The December 1919 issues of The New York Clipper are filled with a wealth of news and reviews from vaudeville, Broadway, burlesque, show music, and motion pictures.

Below is an excerpt from MHDL Co-Director Eric Hoyt’s description of the paper:

Founded in 1853, the Clipper offered weekly coverage of legitimate theatre, vaudeville, the circus, and other forms of entertainment (which, by the early-20th century, included motion pictures). In 1923, the Clipper was acquired and absorbed by one of its New York competitors: Variety.

In these issues you will find motion picture news, including the return of Max Linder, the death of Mary Pickford’s dog, Mrs. Chaplin’s plans to adopt a baby boy, a libel suit filed by Leonard Bernstein, and the contract court disputes of Lewis J. Selznick. There are new Burlesque acts, news, and routes, as well as the latest from vaudeville, and early reviews of the 1919 Broadway sensation, “Aphrodite.”

The December 17th Issue of the Clipper details the majestic arrival of “Queen” Ethel Barrymore at the Equity (Actors’ Equity Association) Holiday Ball and Pageant, and provides speculation that an expected end to prohibition and a “wet” New Year will send ticket prices for New York’s New Year’s Eve shows to a record high of $5!

The issues include lovely full-page ads and holiday wishes, as well as Printed sheet music, and advertisements for the show-stopping theater hits of December 1919.

The MHDL search platform Lantern is a great place to search these issues, and learn more about this landmark theatrical trade newspaper.


Our In Media Res Theme Week Begins Today!

We’re thrilled for start of “Found in the Media History Digital Library” theme week on In Media Res. Check In Media Res every day this week to see what treasures our guest curators found.

I kick things off today by introducing the theme week and sharing my favorite Volume One, Issue One, Page One of any movie magazine ever. “I was, I verily believe, predestined to edit the The Implet,” wrote Thomas Bedding (1912). And it gets better from there. See the page below and read my commentary at

Stay tuned later this week for posts for posts from Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, Anne Helen Petersen, Jennifer Horne, and Kate Fortmueller. Big thanks to Alisa Perren for making this theme week possible!

‘Cine-Mundial’ (1916-1946) goes digital!

If you've heard of Chalmers Publishing, then you probably know it as the publisher of the most famous weekly motion picture trade paper of the silent film era, Moving Picture World. What you may not know, however, is that Chalmers' New York office also published an important Spanish-language monthly film magazine: Cine-Mundial.  

The Media History Digital Library is proud to present 30 years of Cine-Mundial, spanning from 1916 until 1946. Most of these issues come from the collection of the Library of Congress Packard Center for AudioVisual Conservation. You can find Cine-Mundial in the MHDL's Global Cinema Collection and Hollywood Studio System Collection. You can also run searches across every page of the magazine on our search platform, Lantern.

We asked Laura Isabel Serna, Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California and author of Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age, to write a description of the magazine for the MHDL. Here is Serna's insightful description (which is also available in a Spanish translation at the MHDL and Lantern): 

Cine-Mundial, the Spanish-language version of Moving Picture World, was published between 1916 and 1948. The magazine documents Hollywood’s growing dominance in Latin American markets in the 1920s and the emergence of national film industries, such as those of Mexico and Argentina after the introduction of sound film.   Far from being a mere translation of its English-language counterpart, Cine-Mundial focused on issues that were important to its readers in Latin American and Spain—the representation of Latin Americans on screen, the geo-politics of film distribution, and Hollywood's short foray into Spanish-language film production in the late 1920 and early 1930s. Functioning as both trade publication and fan magazine, its regular columns that featured reports from national correspondents and letters from readers from every corner of the Spanish-speaking world provides invaluable insight into Latin American audiences and their reception of both imported and nationally or regionally produced films. 

You can read our full Q & A with Prof. Serna on the MHDL blog. In the Q & A, Serna discusses Cine-Mundial, digital research methods, and her new book, Making Cinelandia, from Duke University Press. She also shares two of her favorite clippings from Cine-Mundial. 
Our thanks go to the Library of Congress Packard Campus and Bruce Long (who contributed the 1920 volume) for making possible the digitization of Cine-Mundial. Muchas gracias!

Q & A with Laura Isabel Serna about ‘Cine-Mundial’ and new book, ‘Making Cinelandia’

Published by in Q & A on November 7th, 2013

When I was designing the first website for the Media History Digital Library, I asked Laura Isabel Serna — who is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts — if there were any trade papers or fan magazines that she would love to see digitized. She suggested the Spanish-language magazine Cine-Mundial, which was published out of New York by the same publisher as Moving Picture World. Laura had used Cine-Mundial extensively in her dissertation and book research David Pierce was familiar with Cine-Mundial, but I wasn’t, and it sure sounded interesting.

Now, roughly two years later, we can all see and appreciate this unique magazine for ourselves. Thanks to the the Library of Congress Packard Center for AudioVisual Conservation, you can now read and search 30 years of Cine-Mundial (1916-1946) at the Media History Digital Library and Lantern.

Naturally, when we wanted someone to write a description of the magazine for the MHDL site, we asked Laura first. Fortunately for us all, she said yes. On the website, you’ll find her insightful description, which she also translated into Spanish.

Laura also graciously agreed to participate in a Q & A for the MHDL’s blog. In what follows, I talk with Laura about Cine-Mundial, her teaching, research methods, and her new book, Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age.


Hoyt: Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming book Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age (Duke University Press, 2014) and how you used Cine-Mundial in the course of your research?

Serna: Making Cinelandia tries to answer the question of how American films influenced Mexican film culture in the 1920s. Then, like today, American films dominated Mexican screens from the tip of the Yucatecan peninsula to both the northern and southern borders. Instead of looking at production—a problematic endeavor given that very few Mexican films from this period are extant—I look closely at exhibition, distribution, and what Yuri Tsivian has called “cultural reception” or the discourse on cinema. The central argument of the book, that Mexican audiences on both sides of the border used their encounters with American cinema to create a national film culture before the emergence of a national film industry and a national cinematic imaginary, emerges from an interest in the transnational circulation of film and film culture. I was interested in parsing cinema’s relationship to Mexican nationalism but wanted to disrupt narratives of Mexican film history that focus exclusively on national production.

Cine-Mundial, which contains reports from national correspondents from across the Spanish-speaking world including Mexico was critical in allowing me to reconstruct how American films became dominant in a market that had previously been the domain of European producers. Those reports offered strong evidence of the growing influence of American films in Mexico in the late teens and early 1920s. In broad terms, Cine-Mundial, demonstrates the ways that early classical Hollywood cinema was positioned as a cosmopolitan cultural formation that could travel across borders but was consistently localized.

Hoyt:Can you share a page or two from the magazine that highlights what you find especially interesting about Cine-Mundial?

Serna: The editorial below from the inaugural issue (January 1916) lays out the premise of the publication by pointing to commerce as a means of generating hemispheric connections, highlighting the growing popularity of American films in Latin America and Spain, and reaffirming their belief in cinema’s critical role in modern society. The editors declare that they “will try by every means to be useful to the three large branches of the cinema industry: producers, distributors (renters they say specifically), and exhibitors.” The final paragraph invites readers to participate in a dialogue in order to make the publication as useful as possible.

This next page, from the March 1923 issue, features photographs submitted by C-M’s sales agents abroad for a contest depicting the ways in which they promoted the publication. The winners of the contest, Adolfo Quesada and sons from Mexico City, are lauded for their entry , which the jury considered the “most artistic, effective, and realistic [!].” I love that these images show the publication in local contexts.

Hoyt: How would you suggest readers interpret what they read in Cine-Mundial? On the one hand, it was published out of New York by the Chalmers Company, publisher of Moving Picture World. On the other hand, as you point out, it addressed topics of particular interest to Spanish speaking markets and included letters from readers. Was this the voice of the American film industry, the voice of Spanish-language exhibitors and audiences, or some combination?

Serna: Cine-Mundial is a fascinating source in part because it represents multiple and sometimes competing interests and voices. It is not a direct translation of Moving Picture World though it was clearly conceived of as a tool for promoting the interests of U.S. film companies in Latin America and Spain. It had a separate editorial board that spoke to hemispheric concerns. In many ways it demonstrates how Latin Americans (and Spaniards) used American films to promote their own interests as entrepreneurs and cultural arbiters. It also provided a forum for Spanish-speaking fans to participate, from their historically and culturally situated positions, in a global film culture that represented modernity. The write in columns are particularly interesting as they allow us to see glimpses of what everyday people, albeit literate people, rather than the cultural elite thought about the films they saw and the stars they admired.

Hoyt: You teach USC’s survey course on the History of Global Cinema to 1945. In the course, you have used technology and the MHDL collections in some really exciting and innovative ways. Can you describe the assignment you created and what students did with the MHDL content?

Serna: Part of my goal as a film historian is to teach students some very basic historical methods and familiarize them with the materials, besides films, that film historians use to write and revise the history of cinema. MHDL can, of course, be used in a very straightforward way to find information about a particular person or film, but I decided to ask students to digitally annote pages from selected fan/trade magazines from the 1920s. Each student is assigned a page and has to research and analyze its contents. Essentially they are engaging in one of the first step in any historical research project: looking closely at a source and reflecting critically on the contents.

The first year we did this the students annotated their page—which required outside research—by cutting and pasting sections into a word document. This year we asked them to use prezi to construct their annotations, which allowed them to link to images and short video clips and to make the connections they saw on the page dynamic. In the future I’d like to use a similar type of exercise in a smaller course as the lead up to a research paper that makes use of MHDL content. Here is an example of one student’s annotation prezi:

Hoyt: You began researching your book years before the MHDL came into being. On the eve of its release, thirty years worth of Cine-Mundial have been digitized and made openly available. Can you reflect generally about the differences between digital research and old research methods and what you like or dislike about each?

Serna: Ha! I sometimes think about the hours I might have saved had I been doing my research just a bit later. Digital research can be very efficient. You insert a search term into a box and in seconds you have (hopefully) a number of hits that you can look at more closely. At the same time, I think that older research methods, in my case paging through a periodical more or less from its first issue, gives one a sense of the publication in its totality that digital research can’t provide. For example, if you read over a number of years of a publication you begin to grasp the tone and what’s perhaps more important you are seeing information in context: What’s next to it? Where in the publication does it appear (towards the front, in the back with all the ads?)

What’s more, you inevitably find things you didn’t know you were looking for! I have, literally, hundreds of pages of transcribed articles and notes from Cine-Mundial. They represent many, many hours of work, but they also represent my processing of the material because I had to choose what to flip past, what to transcribe, and, because photocopying represented a significant expense, what to copy. I’d encourage students to develop hybrid methodologies that make digital research work for them without sacrificing the deep immersion of more traditional research methods. I have to discipline myself not just to accumulate pdfs or jpgs but to actually work through them so I know what I have.



Magazine of the Week – The Moving Picture World (November 3, 1917)


The November 3, 1917 issue of The Moving Picture World features coverage of D.W. Griffith’s efforts to secure wartime battle footage in Europe, architectural plans for Charlie Chaplin’s new Los Angeles studio, and lengthy discussions on what the newly instated war tax means for the entertainment industry. This issue also includes the stunning full-page advertisements, reviews, and news that make The Moving Picture World a pleasure to open up and read.

You can use the Internet Archive BookReader or the MHDL Lantern search platform to read, download, or search this, and other Media History Digital Library Collections.

In Praise of the Photographer: International Photographer (February 1941)


The Media History Digital Library celebrates all those who work behind the camera by selecting the February 1941 issue of International Photographer as this week’s magazine of the week.

In this issue Tobacco Road (1941) Cinematographer Arthur Miller speaks about his relationship with Director John Ford, and explains why he feels that Ford is, “the best director for any cameraman to work with.” (7).  Also included are a technical exploration of negative exposure, a behind-the-scenes look at a newsreel production, the rise of candid photography, and small format technological advancements for amateur photographers and cinema clubs. (more…)

Magazine of the Week-Pantomime (October 29, 1921)

This week the Media History Digital Library is featuring the illustrated weekly fan magazine, Pantomime. Found in the MHDL Fan Magazine Collection (1911-1963), this issue features unexpected profiles of unexpected stars, and shows that even Hollywood can recognize inner beauty.


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