Motion Picture Film Pieces

Motion Picture Film Pieces

Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)
A group of 13 pieces of motion picture film of varying widths and lengths housed together and therefore accessioned as a group. The objects are as follows:
1. 55mm b&w positive print showing buildings in a city; 7 frames, 6.5 inches long
2. 35mm b&w positive print showing a woman and flowers; 8.5 frames, 6.5 inches long
3. 35mm panchromatic color positive print showing a parade float; 3 frames, 2.5 inches long
4. 35mm color positive print showing a woman wearing a hat; 7 frames, 6 inches long
5. 35mm b&w positive print showing a woman singing by a man playing the piano - rectangular sprocket holes and uncommon variable-density soundtrack printed outside the frame, beside the holes; 3 frames, 2.5 inches long
6. 35mm b&w positive print showing the title of the S. Lubin production "A Policeman's Love Affair"; 6 frames, 4.5 inches long
7. 35mm b&w positive print showing a building or construction site on a street; 9 frames, 7.5 inches long
8. 35mm hand-tinted positive print by Pathe Freres showing a Middle Eastern scene, perhaps dating from ca 1904-5; 9 frames, 7 inches long
9. 28mm b&w positive print showing one man throwing another to the ground; 11 frames, 7 inches long
10. 35mm b&w positive print showing a scene in an Indian palace; 4 frames, 3 inches long
11. 50mm b&w positive print showing a bridge with a variable-density soundtrack; 8 frames, 6 inches long
12. 35mm yellow-tinted positive print showing the title information for the Vitagraph film "The Juggernaut"; 7 frames, 5.5 inches long
13. 35mm pink-tinted positive print showing an intertitle reading "Convalescent" from the Selig Polyscope film "The Spoilers"; 7.5 frames, 6 inches long
The Early Cinema Film and Ephemera Collection [COLL.PHOTOS.000038] includes over 50 pieces of notable motion picture film and more than 80 posters, photographs and other ephemeral objects from cinema’s early days. The collection’s film is primarily short lengths of motion picture film donated by inventors or industry groups to mark technological innovation. Charles Francis Jenkins, the co-inventor of the Vitascope projector, donated a short length of film showing William McKinley’s inauguration. Wallace Goold Levison and E. H. Amet, two early motion picture innovators, gave pieces of film, news clippings and business cards to mark their achievements in the technological development of the medium. The Society of Motion Picture Engineers, the leading trade association for motion picture workers, made two donations of early motion picture film samples, including examples of Biograph and early color motion pictures. Sound cinema pioneer Eugene Augustin Lauste’s scrapbooks and photographs illuminate his work to improve the motion picture as well as the early days of the industry. A portion of the film collection represents the work of pioneers like Charles Urban and August Plahn to perfect a natural and vibrant color for projected film.
The Collection also helps to illuminate the rise of the motion picture industry as a cultural and business phenomenon through ephemera. Posters promoting some of the earliest film exhibitions, the films of silent Western star William S. Hart, the 1930 re-release of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and features presented at Washington’s Trans-Lux theater illustrate the range of movie advertising from the earliest days of the cinema to the industry’s attempts to combat television competition in the 1950s. A group of photographs of theaters, 270 glass slides used to promote upcoming features and pieces of movie star memorabilia broaden the collection’s focus to that of cinema culture at its zenith of influence in American life.
This finding aid is one in a series documenting the PHC’s Early Cinema Collection [COLL.PHOTOS.000018]. The cinema-related objects cover the range of technological innovation and popular appeal that defined the motion picture industry during a period in which it became the premier form of mass communication in American life, roughly 1885-1930. See also finding aids for Early Sound Cinema [COLL.PHOTOS.000040], Early Color Cinema [COLL.PHOTOS.000039], Early Cinema Equipment [COLL.PHOTOS.000037] and the Gatewood Dunston Collection [COLL.PHOTOS.000021].
Object Name
Selig Polyscope Company
Lubin Film Company
Physical Description
gelatin (overall material)
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Motion Pictures
Entertainment, Film
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Popular Entertainment
Early Color Cinema Equipment Collection
Photo History Collection
Early Cinema Film Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object