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Academy Library a Film-Lover’s Dream

Crowd lining street under the marquee of the Pantages Theater at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959

Movie buffs around the world will have their eyes tuned to their TVs tonight for the 96th Academy Awards, where Hollywood’s who’s-who gather to celebrate the year’s best films, performances in films, production aspects, and more. Organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscars are a celebration of the rich history of cinema, so it’s no surprise that the Academy has a truly incredible library where it collects treasures from the film world.

The Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library is one of the world’s preeminent research facilities dedicated to preserving the artform and industry of motion pictures. Its holdings, amassed since 1928, include books, photographs, scripts, posters, production records, costume design drawings, and so much more.

Mary Pickford with movie camera in the 1910s.
Mary Pickford with movie camera in the 1910s.

Located in Beverly Hills, California, the library is used year-round by students, scholars, historians, and industry professionals. It is open to the public by appointment only, however, much of its collection can now be viewed online.

Representing more than 35,000 items, the Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections presents a curated selection of materials from the library's extensive holdings on motion-picture history. Items include correspondence, photographs, sheet music, scrapbooks, lobby cards, movie ephemera, books, film magazines and industry publications. The collections also provide access to publications of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dating back to the founding of the organization in 1927.

Amongst the library’s digital holdings are the papers of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor, and Mack Sennett and silent-era actress, director, and producer Mary Pickford, which include correspondences, production photos, and storyboards; photos by director Cecil B. DeMille; “Wizard of Oz” director Victor Fleming’s scrapbook of items devoted to the famous film; archival photos from RKO Pictures and Paramount Pictures; specialized collections devoted to materials on the Latin American motion picture art and industry, movie-star ephemera, film lobby cards, Hollywood during WWII; and so much more.

Horror and sci-fi buffs will definitely want to explore the library’s “Cinefantastique” magazine records. "Cinefantastique" was an American periodical covering the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres, and the library holds an extensive collection of its photographs and documents, including production photos and materials from the films “Aliens,” “Altered States,” “Ghostbusters,” “Blade Runner,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Brazil,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and more.

For those interested in exploring the history of the Oscars, the library’s digital collection also has a wealth of materials on the ceremony, including a complete run of ceremony programs, posters, rules books, photos, and more. It also has issues of Academy member newsletters, annual reports, technical articles, and other publications produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as photos, ephemera, and other materials documenting the history of the organization.

The Margaret Herrick Library is truly a film-lover’s dream. Check it out before your Oscar party tonight!


Photo: Crowd lining the street under the marquee of the Pantages Theater at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959, from the Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1959.

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