Moving Images

Guide to Archival Resources for Moving Images at York University


This guide was developed to aid researchers in locating material relevant to Moving Images at York University Archives and Special Collections (ASC). The purpose of this guide is to assist users in the first stages of their research by indicating which private fonds/collections might contain archival material pertinent to their areas of interest, and to introduce the researcher to the scope of ASC’s Moving Images holdings.

Moving Images is a broad category encompassing a wide range of archival material. However, it can easily be understood as those documents and materials relating to film, video and television, and the individuals, organizations and institutions that produce, disseminate, comment on and regulate visual media. The Moving Images guide was developed by surveying the private fonds/collections and defining 19 categories or classifications of material relevant to Moving Images research. Each of the classifications is accompanied by a definition in order to provide the researcher with a more in depth understanding of what the fonds/collections contain. Furthermore, within the descriptions of each classification the variety of materials most commonly found is indicated to provide the user with some clarification about possible documents.

To fully understand what this guide does and does not cover, it is necessary to understand some basic concepts in archival terminology. The first concept which requires definition is the term “private” fonds/collections. The archives collects two broad categories of material: the official records of York University and private fonds/collections. While the official records of York University are those related to the governing, administrative, academic and student bodies of the university, private fonds/collections are archival materials created by persons, families or organizations outside of the sphere of official university business. Examples of private fonds include the records of individuals such as Margaret Laurence, Joyce Wieland, John N. Smith, etc. This guide surveys private fonds or collections only.

Other concepts which are critical to understanding this guide are the concepts of the fonds and collection. A fonds is defined as “the whole of the documents, regardless of form or medium, automatically and organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular individual, family or corporate body in the course of that creator’s activities or functions.”1 Therefore, the fonds is a group of records that is naturally created by a person, family or organization in the course of their everyday lives and activities. A collection, on the other hand, is a unit of material that is artificially created or brought together on the basis of some common characteristic, such as subject, language, etc. In this guide, both fonds and collections have been surveyed for materials related to Moving Images.

Below are 19 subject classifications of archival material related to Moving Images. Clicking on any of the subject classifications will link the user to a listing of the fonds/collections containing material relevant to that topic. The user will note that only the fonds/collection’s name and number are listed. Providing a detailed inventory of each fonds/collection is beyond the scope of this guide. This research aid was designed as an introduction to the ASC’s holdings, and not as a replacement for conducting research at the Archives. Furthermore, the finding aid was created to make the ACS’s holdings more accessible while attempting to limit imposed interpretation of the archival material. While the formation of the subject classifications already presupposes a level of interpretation, it is hoped that the researcher will develop his/her own understanding and use of the archival material.

The quantity of information relevant to a subject classification within a given fonds/collection varies from a single document (a script, article, film, etc) to a series or body of work (collection of correspondence, research material, policy papers) or even the majority of the collection itself. Again, the amount of information is not indicated as the ultimate relevancy of the material will be unique to each individual researcher, and often will gain added significance within the context of the entire fonds/collection. It should also be noted that many fonds/private collections fit into more than one classification, and determining what categories a particular fonds/collection is cross-listed with will give the researcher a more focussed assessment of the fonds/collections’ material.

Having found a fonds containing material relevant to their research, the user should then proceed to the Fonds Inventories and related finding aids to identify the specific document titles and descriptions. It is at this level that the researcher will be better able to determine the relevance of the fonds contents and request those items which require further study. Due to the nature of archival collections, the user should be aware of a couple of significant characteristics of the fonds. Firstly, it is important to know that the degree of access to documents varies within and between fonds. Some documents will require the permission of the Archivist and/or a trustee of the individual fonds. Secondly, while the fonds are generally centered on (and named for) one person, family, or organization, they tend to contain extensive amounts of material produced by or about others. For example, while the John N. Smith fonds contains documents relating to many of the subject classifications, material within these classifications may not be produced by him, but instead may relate to groups, organizations and individuals with whom he worked and corresponded.

1 Bureau of Canadian Archivists. Rules for Archival Description (Ottawa: Bureau of Canadian Archivists, 1990), D-4.

*ASC would like to thank Catherine Adams Schimpl for her time and effort in compiling this resource guide.

Moving Images Subject Classification

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
Documentary Film
Distribution and Exhibition
Education and Research
Film and Television Associations
Films and Videos
Fine Arts
Funding and Grants
Government and Policy
Industrial Film
National Film Board
York University and Film Studies