Search Tips

To access information on feature-length films, search the Feature Film Database >>

To access to non-feature length films, search ArCat (the online catalog for the Wisconsin Historical Society). You may also come in person to search the film and photo card catalog, located in the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives Reading Room.

How the Feature Film Database Is Organized

The Feature Film Database includes all 3,000 American and international feature-length films in the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research (WCFTR) Collection. The database does not include titles of short subjects, cartoons, television series or programs, amateur footage or any other non-theatrical films. The database represents 20 percent of the WCFTR Collection, which includes 15,000 American and international films and television programs.

The physical films are organized by call number - the unique number assigned to each unit (reel, cassette, or disc) of a film. They are housed at the Society in an area not open to the public.

All films are available for viewing by reservation. It is important to have the call number available for each unit of a film when making an appointment for viewing. Call numbers are located in each film's record in the Film Database. These call numbers help staff identify and retrieve the film in storage.

Use the Film Database to search for the film you wish to see. Each film has a record in the database containing up to 10 fields, six of which are searchable.

Searchable Fields in the Database

The release title in its original language. For example, the French film "L'Amour A Vingt Ans" can be found under this title.
Alternate title
The secondary title by which the film is likely to be known. For non-English language films, this would be a well-known English-language title. Sometimes an English-language film also has an alternate title. For example the British film "The Girl Was Young" was released in the United States as "Young and Innocent."
The country where the principal offices of the production company are located. Some film records list multiple countries if the co-production of the film is identified on the film print.
Production company
The company that produced the film. Generally, this field does not include more than one production company.
Directors' names are listed in the typical Western format—first the given name, then family name. For example, the Japanese director Ozu Yasujiro is listed as "Yasujiro Ozu." Names are also Romanized according to American English. For example, the German character is rendered as "oe."
The year the film was originally released for theatrical distribution in the country of origin. In the film record, the year appears after the title in parentheses.
Non-Searchable Fields
Specifies film gauge, videotape, or DVD format.
Call number
The unique number assigned to each unit (reel, cassette, or disc) of a film. These call numbers help staff identify and retrieve the film in storage. Be sure to give all call numbers for each unit of a film when making an appointment for viewing.
Running time
The approximate running time of the entire film. Run times for individual reels of a film are not available. When planning your film viewing, add at least 15 minutes to the run time of the film. This allows time for changing reels and any unforeseen troubleshooting that might occur while viewing the film.
The company that distributed the copy of the film that WCFTR holds. For example, if a German film was distributed in the United States by a different distributor than was used in Germany, and we hold the U.S. copy of the film, the distributor will be listed as the U.S. distributor. The distributor field helps you identify which version of a film the Center holds.
Any other information that might be useful in planning a film viewing. For example, whether a film is dubbed or has subtitles, if the film is missing sections or has other content included on its reels, whether the color of the film is heavily faded or the film itself has other technical issues that might affect its viewing.