Year Books (1916-1964)
Year Books or annuals documented the accomplishments and participants in specific industries. The Year Books for the motion picture industry are especially important for historians: for each year they catalog films released, highlight events, provide comprehensive listings of industry companies and personnel, reprint company financial statements, and contain evocative advertisements from industry suppliers, vendors, producers, stars and directors. If magazines are the day to day history of the media industries, then year books follow that progress with a more objective perspective, while still looking at the industry as an inside player. The Year Books were published by industry trade magazines, and there was a tacit understanding that the purchase of advertising would help ensure that no negative coverage would appear.
Of the hundreds of available volumes, this collection includes a representative sample across five decades. The best known of these is The Film Daily Year Book, published out of New York, with an in-depth look at production and distribution. A highlight is a listing of every theater in the United States. The market was large enough that The Film Daily also published a Directors Guide in the 1930s. The main competitor was Quigley Publications’ Motion Picture Almanac, represented here by two examples. The Hollywood Reporter tried to match these publications in the 1940s with The Hollywood Reporter Production Encyclopedia, and although credits were limited to the most recent five years, their contribution was notable for its focus on television and detailed cast and credits, including many names for production managers and assistant directors that did not appear on screen, and can only be found through printed resources such as these. Great Britain has the Kine Year Book, which documented the country’s vibrant, yet small, industry.
There were two subcategories of year books – booking guides and studio directories. Booking guides helped exhibitors select films for their theaters, and often provided indexes to reviews in the affiliated magazine. Studio directories served to remind casting directors and others of performers under contract and freelance supporting players.