UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards an archives of film Cameron, Martha Mary


Despite its importance in twentieth century society, film has proven difficult to use as a source of historical evidence, largely because of problems both physical and intellectual associated with its use. The historical research community has found film to be either inaccessible for research purposes or lacking in credibility as compared to other sources of evidence. Historians can only bring their critical methodology to the study of film if the material can be brought under the same standards of control and maintenance that is afforded traditional archival sources. From the perspective of archives, the problem involves developing a means by which film can be systematically acquired and documented so that the research community can exploit it for its historical evidence. In addressing this problem, this study will first examine the nature of film and the evidence it offers the historical researcher as reflected in literature on the subject. Then it will analyse the approach and policies with, regard to film, taken by the film industry itself, the library community and special research institutions, among the latter including some of the great repositories for film in the world. The purpose of this analysis is to demonstrate the ways in which the treatment of film in these institutions differs from the treatment of archival records in traditional historical archives. The study will conclude by proposing an approach to the preservation of film in keeping with archival principles and in light of the needs of historical researchers. Such an approach would see film take its place beside other historical records preserved in archives.

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