Locating sources on early cinema

This guide focuses on finding film reviews, articles, and other documents published before 1950. When looking for early publications, consider using all or some of these options:

  • Start with a reference source to find background information that can help you with your search.
  • Search online trade magazines and newspapers listed below.
  • Use indexes and databases listed on this web page to search for references to articles about a film.
  • Consult recent books and articles: check the bibliography, footnotes, etc. for references to early publications.

Background information - encyclopedias

The following provide overviews of many films and directors. Check the bibliographies for references to early articles.


Indexes are essentially lists of other works on a given topic and so can point you in the direction of additional information.

Print essentials

  • Film Review Index. V.1: 1882 -1949 - REF PN 1995 F476 provides references to magazines, including articles about films.  

  • Selected Film Criticism includes reprinted review articles from early magazines for some films. The call number is REF PN 1995 S426 

    • Volume 1: 1896 - 1911
    • Volume 2: 1912- 1920 
    • Volume 3: 1921- 1930
    • Volume 4: 1931 - 1940 
    • Volume 6: Foreign Films: 1930-1950

Online Film Index

  • Film Index International – online database “Film Index International provides in-depth indexing of over 125,000 films - from the first silent movies to the latest blockbusters - and biographical information for more than 800,000 personalities. Its rich content also includes coverage of international film awards and prizes as well as searchable plot summaries and full cast and crew lists. 

Early Magazines in Microfilm or Paper in Concordia Library not available online

You can request a scanned copy of a specific article available only in paper or microfilm through Article/Chapter Scan & Deliver.

Trade journals & newspapers

Search online trade journals & newspapers (Library subscriptions)

The following newspapers and databases on the ProQuest platform can be searched individually or the combined databases:

For combined databases look at:

Or search individually by title:

NOTE: Use the date limit option in these databases to focus your search on covering dates relevant to the film's release.

Film Magazines, Trade Journals and Newspapers (Open Access) 

  • Media History Digital Library includes mostly American film trade magazines. Browse issues or use the LANTERN Search tool. You can also access these journals through the Internet Archive.

  • The Bioscope Library provides links to various European journals available in different collections.

  • Gallica contains numerous electronic texts including some early cinema magazines in French

  • Google News Archive can be searched for 100s of newspaper reviews - NOTE: some articles are available as pay-per-view. Check Sofia to see if the newspaper is available at Concordia Library. 

Search for recent articles

Use one or more of the following databases to identify recent journal articles which may include bibliographies that list references to early magazine articles. Check the library catalogue to see if the journal is available. If the journal is available in paper or microfilm at Concordia Library, you can request a scanned copy through Article/Chapter Scan & Deliver.

Film & Television Literature Index -Provides references to articles in film journals and also includes some full-text articles from journals published over the past 30 years

Film Index International -Provides references to articles in journals from 1920s to present. Search by film title or director

International Index to Film Periodicals -Provides references to articles in film journals from journals published over the past 40 years

JSTOR -A cross-disciplinary collection of journals. 

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Full-text -Theses and dissertations can provide a good introduction to films and directors and generally include extensive bibliographies.

Additional resources

Use Sofia to find books about a film or director or possibly actors/actresses, film studios, silent films, etc. relevant to a film. Check for autobiographies, biographies, interviews, memoirs, etc. Check for reprints of earlier books.

Through Sofia, you can check the catalogues of other university libraries, such as McGill, or UdeM. If you would like to request a book from a library in Montreal and elsewhere, use the Interlibrary Loans service.


  • The Bioscope - An online archive of news, publications, events, discoveries, documents, critical theory, filmmakers, performers, audiences and the technology of the silent era

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