The Harvard Film Archive is one of the largest and most significant university-based motion picture collections in the United States, with a collection of 40,000 audio visual items, a growing number of manuscript collections, and nearly one million still photographs, posters, and other promotional materials from around the world and from almost every period in film history. Through a combination of preservation and access, the HFA supports the research and study of cinema at Harvard and beyond.
The HFA supports the research and study of cinema by making moving image material from its collection available to researchers and scholars for individual on-site viewing appointments as well as for classroom and public screenings. The HFA's collection of paper materials, including the documentation of individual filmmakers as well as promotional materials such as posters, film stills, and ephemera are accessible to Harvard affiliates as well as to outside researchers.
For more information on how to arrange access to our collections, please see our
Collection strengths lie in national cinemas, including films from the United States, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Taiwan and Argentina; American studio and independent features; American, European and Japanese experimental film; animation; ethnographic film; short and feature documentary; and diary film. In addition to feature films and art films, the collection contains many examples of non-theatrical, or "useful" cinema, which covers a range of motion picture history outside the classic category of theatrical fiction film, such as educational and industrial shorts on many topics, home movies, newsreels and government films. Non-moving image collections include a wide range of promotional materials including film stills, posters and other flat graphics, as well as a number of manuscript collections documenting the work of individual filmmakers such as Godfrey Reggio, Anne Charlotte Robertson, Warren Sonbert, Hollis Frampton, Robert Gardner, Suzan Pitt and Caroline Leaf.
How Do I Find Items in the HFA Collection?
Researchers can use Harvard Library's catalog, HOLLIS, to search for specific film, video, and audio item records by title, creator, or through keyword searching. Finding aids, which provide detailed descriptions of archival materials, can be searched via HOLLIS Archival Discovery. All film resources at Harvard are listed on Harvard's LibGuides site.
HOLLIS Search Tips for the HFA Collection
HOLLIS contains records for physical and digital content from across the Harvard Library system. To search records only from the Harvard Film Archive collections in this system, you must limit your search in two ways. In the "Advanced Search" option of HOLLIS, search for materials in the Library Catalog and limit your search scope to Harvard Film Archive, as illustrated in the image below
To browse all records from the Harvard Film Archive collections in Hollis, use the "Code: Library + Collection" in the "Advanced Search" option. As illustrated in the image below, choose "Code: Library + Collection" from the dropdown menu under "Search Filters" and then type HFA* as your search term.
HOLLIS for Archival Discovery Search Tips for the HFA Collection
HOLLIS for Archival Discovery contains finding aids, or documents with detailed descriptions of archival materials, from across the Harvard Library Special Collections, searchable by title, author, or keywords.
To search content only from the Harvard Film Archive finding aids in the system, start with this search. To browse all finding aids available from the Harvard Film Archive, click here.