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This is mainly a selection of some of the best websites on early cinema, broadly defined as the period of filmmaking to 1914, when Charles Urban's career was at its height. Also included are some general sites on pre-cinema, silent cinema, colour cinematography, and Urban-related themes such as phonographs. Most sites that mention Urban are included. The Internet is not, on the whole, a good source of secure information on early film. Some sites exist which notably apply rigorous standards and can be recommended for their reliability, such as CineGraph, Quellen zur Filmgeschichte, The Silent Film Bookshelf, and the various excellent resources offered by the Library of Congress, and most of the sites below are trustworthy. What the Internet does very well, of course, is to provide illustrations, and the beauties within a site such as Anima illustrate the great value of the (moving) image over a surfeit of words - something that Urban would have agreed with wholeheartedly.

  • Aaron Marshall's Interactive Webplace ("Selling the West")
    An essay on the use of film by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the marketing of Canada to potential emigrants in the 1890s and 1900s, including reference to the Living Canada series made by the Charles Urban Trading Company.

  • Adventures in Cybersound
    A huge collection of biographical information on inventors of all kinds, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Thomas Edison, with some emphasis on cinema's inventors and pioneers, such as Birt Acres, Robert Paul, W-K.L. Dickson, Georges Demeny, Eadweard Muybridge and Urban's associate G.A. Smith. All gathered together by Dr Russell Naughton, with photographs and links to the sources of information. The site also features Magic Machines, a timeline history of the moving image "from Antiquity to 1900".

  • Alfred John West F.R.G.S. - Film Pioneer
    Alfred West of Southsea became renowned for his popular 'multi-media' (film, photography, song, lecture) patriotic show Our Navy which toured widely from 1898, giving many people their first view of film. He also supplied some films for Urban. Basic information, and extracts from West's unpublished autobiography, all put together by his great-grandson.

  • American Film Institute
    General site on America's "only national arts organization devoted to film, television and video", with an online cinema showing a selection of clips from silent shorts. It also includes the gaudy but exhaustive CineMedia guide to film links on the Net.

  • American Memory from the Library of Congress
    Incomparable collection of early film clips from the Library of Congress, with substantial supporting information. Includes turn-of-the-century views of New York, the origins of American animation, American variety acts, views from the Spanish-American War, and the most recent addition, the Theodore Roosevelt collection (an accompanying essay, T.R. on Film, credits Charles Urban as the donor of some of these films).

  • The American WideScreen Museum & Early Color Processes Resource
    A lively and well-illustrated survey by Martin Hart of the history of motion picture systems, with clear explanations and sample frames (demonstrating the colour effect) of the Lee and Turner three-colour system that preceded Kinemacolor, and of Kinemacolor itself and its rival additive colour systems.

  • Amia
    The Association of Moving Image Archivists, "a non-profit professional association established to advance the field of moving image archiving by fostering cooperation among individuals and organizations concerned with the collection, preservation, exhibition and use of moving image materials".

  • Anima
    Charl Lucassen's remarkable site includes some hypnotic animations of the work of 19th century sequence photographers, or chronophotographers, such as Eadweard Muybridge (a wide selection available), E-J. Marey and Albert Londe, in a section entitled Chronophotographical Projections. There are other sections showing animations of the proto-cinema work of Wordsworth Donisthorpe and Louis Le Prince, and optical toys. The beauties of the site have been somewhat obscured by its recent elaborate redesign. In Dutch and English.

  • Archivio del Movemento
    Wide selection of pre-cinema and early cinema animations (viewable with Windows Media Player), including titles by Ottomar Anschutz, Albert Londe, Eadweard Muybridge, E-J. Marey, Lucien Bull, Georges Demeny, the Lumieres, Skladanowskys and Edison. Text in Italian.

  • Association Française de Recherche sur l'Histoire du Cinéma
    A fine site for those with a scholarly interest in early cinema, including news, photos, links and details of the AFRHC journal 1895. In English and French.

  • Attilio Porcari
    Extensively illustrated site of a collector of still and motion picture cameras, including many early cameras such as the Lumière Cinématographe and the Demeny Chronophotographe. Text mainly in Italian.

  • The Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture
    The late Bill Douglas, filmmaker and enthusiast for early and pre-cinema in all its many manifestiations, amassed a vast collection of books and artefacts. After his death the collection was donated by his partner Peter Jewell to the University of Exeter, which has now set up the Bill Douglas Centre, with the Bill Douglas and Peter Jewell Collection as its centrepiece. See examples from the collection, including magic lantern slides, panoramas, Chapliniana and treasures from cinema's heyday in the 1930s and 40s.

  • The Biograph Camera
    A detailed and very interesting technical article by Billy Bitzer, D.W. Griffith's cameraman, on the 70mm Biograph camera that he used at the turn of the century, prior to his time with Griffith. Buried deep within the Society of Operating Cameramen site, and originally published in its journal The Operating Cameraman.

  • Biograph - The Oldest Movie Company in the World
    Rather oddly, a site claiming to be the still active American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. Mostly devoted to the later Biograph period when D.W. Griffith was directing, but has a biographical entry on Biograph's co-founder W.K-L. Dickson (later a business rival of Urban's), with numerous errors.

  • Black Film Center/Archives
    A selection of downloadable early films (QuickTime) showing black Americans, including Edison's The Pickanninies (1894) and A Morning Bath (1896). Produced by Indiana University's Department of Afro-American Studies.

  • British Film Institute
    The BFI has excellent resources on early cinema, notably in its National Film and Television Archive, which holds the majority of Urban's surviving films. Only a little of these riches is indicated by its website, which includes a catalogue of British silent comedies (including some Urban productions) and articles from Sight and Sound magazine on Edwin S. Porter and Louis Feuillade.

  • British Pathe
    British Pathe are the owners of the newsreel library of Pathe Gazette and Pathe News, a collection which stretches from 1896 to 1970, though the newsreel itself began in 1910. There is a searchable database (designed for commercial users), some quirky synopses, and a number of viewable moving images.

    The Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for "Motion pictures, history of: Early Years, 1893-1910" is as sound and comprehensive an account of the early cinema period as one could hope to find. The sections of the "Motion Pictures" entry on colour mention of Kinemacolor.

  • The Brothers Manaki
    Pioneers of Macedonian cinema, Yanaki and Milton Manaki, who started their cinema careers with a Bioscope from the Charles Urban Trading Company.

  • The Chaplin Society
    Formed in 1999, the Chaplin Society aims to be a focus for all those with a general and scholarly interest in Chaplin worldwide. The site gives the society's general aims, news of events and screenings, and links to numerous other Chaplin sites.

  • CineGraph
    Scholarly site on all aspects of the history of cinema, from a well-respected publisher. Text-heavy and in German, with a general site guide in English.

  • Cinémathèque Méliès
    Average site on Georges Méliès, French magician and master of fantasy in the early years of cinema, who filmed a dramatisation of the coronation of Edward VII for Urban. Includes a biography and filmography. In French.

  • Classic Images
    The site for the American collectors and film buffs' journal ranges widely over aspects of cinema history. The extensive book reviews section (mostly by Anthony Slide) includes a number of early cinema titles.

  • Collecting Vintage Film (Movie Cine) Cameras and Projectors
    Enthusiastic site from a Dutch collector of cinema equipment, with a lengthy list of makes of different kinds of cameras and projectors, and many illustrations from his collection, including the Urban products the Biokam, Kinora and Spirograph. Includes the lavishly illustrated page One Hundred Years of Film Sizes.

  • Colorful Metaphors
    A stimulating and wide-ranging essay on colour in early silent film by Tom Gunning, which emphasises the unreal, 'sensual' attractions of colour tinting over the drive for naturalism represented by a system such as Kinemacolor. Gunning places the use of colour in early film within a broader cultural and commercial history. Published as part of an issue of the Italian journal Fotogenia devoted to film colour. Also available online is Color in Motion, an introductory essay by Monica Dall'Asta and Guglielmo Pescatore. In Italian and English, with illustrations and notes.

  • The Complete History of the Discovery of Cinematography
    A hugely ambitious attempt by Paul Burns to trace the origins of motion pictures from 900 BC through to the arrival of cinematography at the end of the 19th century. The quality of the information is variable, too often plain wrong, and does not begin to challenge a published work such as Hermann Hecht's Pre-Cinema History (1993), but the undertaking is courageous and imaginative, and the illustrations are very welcome.

  • The Dead Media Project
    The Dead Media Project, brainchild of Bruce Sterling, is a huge gathering together of evidence on forms of public communication that are now obsolete, from the pigeon post to ancient Irish fire beacons. Dead means of communicating by moving pictures are naturally included, and include media with which Urban was associated, such as the Kinora, Kinoplastikon and Kinemacolor, as well as host of still more exotically-named inventions. An amazing undertaking, strongly recommended.

  • DG
    Movie clips (using Quicktime) from the films of D.W. Griffith, including several examples from his American Biograph period with such classic titles as The Musketeers of Pig Alley and An Unseen Enemy.

  • A Different Kind of Cinema
    An unillustrated guide to the study of silent film, written by Bruce Hodsdon for the National Library of Australia's Film Studies Collection. Provides introductory comments on acting, music, film speeds, early cinema, Australian silent film, German and American films of the 1920s.

  • Dive Cinema Muto
    Site devoted to silent film actresses, especially the Italian 'divas' such as Lyda Borelli and Francesca Bertini, plus other femme fatales such as Asta Nielsen and Theda Bara. With biographies, essays and illustrations. In Italian.

  • Divina Lyda
    Basic site devoted to Italian 'diva' actress Lyda Borelli. In Italian.

  • Domitor
    The site of the international organisation of scholars interested in early cinema, which holds bi-annual conferences, including an on-line bulletin and a list of members. In English and French.

  • Eadweard Muybridge: Father of Motion Pictures
    An imaginative and handsomely designed site on chronophotographer Eadweard Muybridge, including instant animations of some of his famous photographic sequences.

  • Eadweard Muybridge of Kingston upon Thames
    "The Father of the Motion Picture" was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, and this biographical site is richly illustrated with examples from the local museum's collection. A second, more detailed site, has now been developed, The Eadweard Muybridge Bequest, which gives further details on the Museum's collection and is very much geared towards those with study interests in Muybridge.

  • The Early Cinema
    A selection of Quick Time movie clips of films made by Biograph and Edison from the 1897-1905 period, which derive from the Library of Congress Paper Print Collection. Part of an educational site produced by the Center for History and New Media.

  • The Edison Film
    An interesting site devoted to a beautifully hand-coloured copy of an Edison film from the 1890s, which is actually composed of three individual clips of skirt dancers, one of whom is Annabelle.

  • Edison National Historic Site Home Page
    Informative site on all aspects of Thomas Edison's prolific career, including film. The site is currently closed for improvements. However, parts are still accessible, notably the extensive photographic collection on display at Collection-Edison NHS.

  • Edison's Frankenstein
    A now notorious site which has been for some while offering video copies of the long-lost 1910 Edison version of Frankenstein which have not as yet been forthcoming.

  • Ernest Ouimet - un moment dans la vie culturelle des Montréalais
    Basic account of Canadian film pioneer Ouimet, with contemporary news reports. In French.

  • The Fantômas Website
    Basic information on the novels and films about the French popular fiction hero Fantômas, including film stills and synopses.

  • Le Giornate del Cinema Muto
    More commonly known as the Pordenone Silent Film Festival (after its location up until 1998), this is the site of the world's premier meeting place for silent films, scholars, archivists and enthusiasts. The Giornate also publishes the journal Griffithiana. The site gives some details of the October 2000 programme, which will include strands on Louis Feuillade, Walter Lantz, D.W. Griffith in 1910, the German avant garde, and the Mutoscope and Biograph companies. In English and Italian.

    The site of an early cinema studies research group in Quebec, interested in early cinema issues both in Quebec and worldwide. Those sections of the site devoted to current projects are at present under construction. In French.

  • Grand Illusions
    Though not on cinema as such, this excellent, eye-opening site illuminatingly covers "optical illusions, scientific toys, visual effects, and even a little magic". Plenty to delight, intrigue and amaze, and includes an essay by Stephen Herbert on the persistence of vision fallacy.

  • Haddon Home Page
    Named after the pioneering ethnographer A.C. Haddon, whose 1898 expedition to the Torres Straits took a cine camera, this is an "online catalogue of archival ethnographic films and film footage shot during the first half-century of cinema". Many of the films listed come from the BFI's National Film and Television Archive.

  • Hollywood Studio Tour
    The current fate of many Hollywood studios of the past, including those of Lubin, Jesse L. Lasky and Charlie Chaplin, all illustrated.

  • The Internet Movie Database
    The IMDb's coverage of silent film generally is constantly improving, as numerous dedicated and attentive contributors supply generally reliable information. But a look at Charles Urban's few credits makes it clear that its coverage of early cinema remains minimal and rather eccentric.

  • Journal of Film Preservation
    This journal is published by FIAF, the international federation of film archives, and the site includes articles from back numbers of the journal, mostly of a practical nature.

  • La Lanterna Magica
    Magic lanterns and lantern slides from the Minici Zotti Collection in Padova. In Italian and English.

  • Library of Congress Online Catalog
    The catalogue of the Library of Congress has recently gone on-line, and this includes its film holdings. It is still very rare for any of the larger non-commercial film archives to put the full range of their holdings on-line, and this is a major searching tool for early film.

  • Lubin
    Well-illustrated site devoted to American movie pioneer Siegmund Lubin.

  • Lumière et le Japon
    Accompanying a touring exhibition of films shot in Japan in the 1890s by the Lumière cameramen François-Constant Girel and Gabriel Veyre, this comprises an excellent essay on the first films and filmmaking in Japan by Hiroshi Komatsu, including local production by Katsutaro Inabata, Einosuke Yokota and others, and filmographies. In French, with redundant colour illustrations.

  • The Magic Lantern Society
    A very clear and practical site devoted to the magic lantern, with some excellent recreations of lantern effects.

  • Matsuda: Japanese Index of Movies
    Text-based site on Japanese silent cinema, including a timeline, Who's Who and articles on such distinctive features of the Japanese silents as the benshi interpreter performers.

  • Media Reference Sources & Information
    Links to various cinema history and general cinema, television and video resources, with helpful descriptions.

  • MOMI
    In 1999 London's Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) closed, awaiting the promised construction of a new museum. Filling the gap, and making his own subtle protest, Stephen Herbert (producer of The Projection Box) has devised an unofficial on-line version of the sections of the Museum that covered pre-cinema and early cinema. Beautifully illustrated and animated, it is the first place to learn about magic lanterns, the phantasmagoria, panoramas, zoetropes, phenakistoscopes, chronophotography and the first twenty years of cinema.

  • Motion Picture and Television Reading Room (Library of Congress)
    How to use the reading room of the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, including very welcome collection guides and finding aids.

  • Motion Pictures Catalog
    Guide to an extensive microfilm edition of catalogues of American motion picture producers and distributors from 1894-1908. Features a detailed introduction by Charles Musser, and the contents listing for each reel, including Maguire & Baucus (Urban's American employers), Raff and Gammon, Lumière, Lubin, Gaumont, Méliès, Biograph and many others.

  • Moving Pictures That Talk
    Essay (without illustrations) on the various efforts to synchronise sound discs with motion pictures in the early cinema period, including such systems as the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, Chronophone, Cinephone and Vivaphone.

  • National Fairground Archive
    Informative site for the University of Sheffield's National Fairground Archive, written by Vanessa Toulmin, with plenty of details on fairground operators, especially those such as Randall Williams and George Green who presented film shows at fairground Bioscopes (a word taken from Urban's projector) throughout Britain in the early cinema period.

  • National Museum of Photography, Film & Television
    The NMPFT in Bradford is Britain's national museum of photography, film and television, and has a strong Urban association thanks to its parent organisation, London's Science Museum, which houses the Charles Urban collection of papers.

  • Phantastik im Stummfilm
    Early science fiction films, with good illustrations, with reference to such titles as The Airship Destroyer, made by Walter R. Booth for Urban. In German.

  • The Projection Box
    Information on pre-cinema and early cinema issues, in particular related to the publications of this inventive small publisher. The site is developing interestingly, with increased use of images and updated text, including new information on topics covered by Projection Box titles. Produced by Stephen Herbert, and is linked to Herbert's brilliant idea of a virtual MOMI (qv), or Museum of the Moving Image.

  • Public Motion Picture Research Centers and Film Archives
    Comprehensive list of links to film archives worldwide, provided by the Library of Congress.

  • The Public Record Office
    The PRO is the repository for British official papers, and is a marvellous source of information on British early cinema, if you know where to look (primarily the company records in the Board of Trade files). The PRO catalogue is now on-line, and while to access the actual documents one must visit Kew, having the catalogue searchable in this form is an immense boon, and yields up serendipitious results that one would be unlikely to discover using the indexes at Kew alone.

  • Quellen zur Filmgeschichte
    Produced by the extraordinarily industrious Herbert Birett, this features huge amounts of information about films either made or shown in Germany 1912-1920, plus film trade journals of the time and mentions of film in non-movie journals. some of it listed, some of it downloadable files, some of it available from the author. Some interesting links. In German, with some notes in English.

  • Questions Regarding the Genesis of Nonfiction Film
    A stimulating essay on early non-fiction filmmaking, its essence, problems of definition, and neglect by film scholars, by Japanese scholar Komatsu Hiroshi.

  • Sandow - Historic Photographs of Early Bodybuilders
    This has more to do with bodybuilding than film, but Eugen Sandow was a popular figure at the end of the 19th century, who appeared in a number of the earliest films made, of which some can be viewed here.

  • Science Museum Library
    The Library holds the extensive Charles Urban Collection of Papers Relating to Early Motion Pictures. Details of the Library's operations and general holdings are given here.

  • Screening the Past
    On-line cinema history journal, with news, reviews and articles, both original and classic reprints with scholarly introductions.

  • ScreenSound Australia
    The Australian national archive of moving images and sound, ScreenSound Australia, has made its database of 360,000 titles available online, searchable by keyword (use also for dates) and name. The cataloguing detail is often excellent, and there is much interesting early material available. The option to call up viewable material only is very welcome.

  • Silent Film Bookshelf
    Superb site, edited by David Pierce, which reprints original articles on silent cinema from contemporary film trade journals, as well as more recent criticism. Sister site to Silent Film Sources.

  • Silent Film Sources - Silent Films Availability in the U.S.
    A guide to all sources for silent films in the USA, from video to 35mm theatrical hire. Sister site to the Silent Film Bookshelf.

  • Silent Movies
    An assortment of links to other silent film sites, plus some general information (and a promised section on colour in silent film to come). Produced by Glen Pringle.

  • The Silents Majority
    On-line silent film journal. The first port of call for anyone interested in silent film on the Net. News, photos, lobby cards, biographies, articles, plenty of links and excellent presentation.

  • Silent Westerns
    Well-illustrated essay on the silent Western, with good historical background for cinema at this time generally.

  • Slapstick
    Wide selection of Quicktime movie clips for silent film comedians, including Chaplin, Lloyd, Arbuckle, Langdon and Max Linder.

  • Streifzüge Durch die Berliner Film- und Kinogeschichte
    The early years of German cinema, as seen through the cinemas of Berlin (addresses and photographs then and now are given), covering the German pioneers Max Skladanowsky and Oskar Messter, as well as the stars and directors of the later German silents. In German.

  • Terra Media
    A growing site on the history of the media, at the heart of which is a timeline section entitled Chronomedia, which aims to document important moments in the history of all communications media, and which includes technological "firsts" and innovations in motion pictures in the 1890s to 1900s.

  • Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
    Thanhouser was a middling American film company of the early cinema period, specialising in theatrical adaptations. General historical and biographical details, plus information on videos and publications available.

  • Vintage Film Page
    British film collectors page, with information on Pathéscope 9.5mm and Kodascope, plus assorted sections on edge codes, film deterioration and the like.

    The best source for learning all about the Edison phonograph and other early systems for recorded sound, with a delightful range of recordings available on-line.

  • Urbanography
    The first issue of this internet journal has an article by Irvin Leigh Matus called "Where the Dream was Made" which is a genial history of the Brooklyn-based Vitagraph Company of America, whose owners J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith were close business associates of Urban.

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