The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) is one of the world’s major archives of research materials relating to the entertainment industry. It maintains over three hundred collections from outstanding playwrights, television and motion picture writers, producers, actors, designers, directors, and production companies. Materials preserved include: historical records and personal papers, twenty thousand motion pictures, television shows, and videotapes; two million still photographs and promotional graphics; and several thousand sound recordings. It is richest in records of the American film industry between 1930 and 1960, American popular theater in the 1940s and 1950s, and American television from the 1940s to the 1970s.
One of the most important gateways into understanding American culture is the original records of its creators, particularly in the field of drama and audiovisual media. Each year, hundreds of scholars from around the world, as well as creative artists and the interested public, consult our archives and produce important works that draw on the information and visual materials contained in our collections. Our staff can assist researchers looking for materials.
The WCFTR actively collects the papers and audiovisual materials of individual producers, directors, writers, actors, and other key personnel in the production of U.S. audio/visual/state culture.
Collecting areas we are most interested in developing:
- Film and television production records
- Independent producers, directors, and writers
- Collections with social action significance
- Innovators in the media field
Housed in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Library-Archives Division, the WCFTR is one of the world’s most accessible archives and is regularly visited by researchers from around the world. Research undertaken in its collections has revolutionized the scholarship of American cinema, theater, and television.
The WCFTR is a participating member of FIAF, the International Federation of Film Archives, enabling us to borrow filmed material from major archives for UW Cinematheque screenings. The WCFTR, in turn, loans its prints for screenings at events organized or sponsored by other FIAF member archives. Both the UW Cinematheque and Communication Arts Department offer important outreach activities that draw on the Center’s collections and expertise. The WCFTR also partners with the UW School of Library and Information Studies to provide training opportunities for enrolled students in the Archives and Records Management for a Digital Age program.
For internship and volunteer opportunities, please contact staff.
UW Cinematheque + WCFTR
The Cinematheque represents UW-Madison academic departments and student film groups and is dedicated to showcasing the best in international cinema history and fine films which would otherwise never reach Madison screens. As the screening facility of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) and a member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the Cinematheque regularly showcases archival and other rare prints from around the world.
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Recent Blog Posts
by Matt St. John The Hartford Smith, Jr. collection provides an audio record of Detroit in the 1960s through Seeds of Discontent, the 1968 radio series Smith created, wrote, and produced. Over 26 episodes, the …January 12, 2023
For the past two years, the MHDL and WCFTR teams have been working to upgrade the online presence of the Media History Digital Library. While there have been incremental updates and band-aid fixes throughout the MHDL’s history, a dedicated modernization and redesign was long overdue. Thanks to the generous support of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an ACLS Digital Extension Grant, new versions of the MHDL website as well as the Lantern search platform were launched in late 2022.December 20, 2022
by Pauline Lampert This video file is the result of a minor archival miracle! It is an illuminating and scarily prescient film strip that details the many injustices perpetrated by the House Un-American Activities …December 6, 2022
Join the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research and the Wisconsin Historical Society as they host the Archival Screening Night Roadshow on Thursday November 18 at 7 pm in the Historical Society auditorium. This …November 4, 2021
Girls’ Voices Now, a new show currently streaming and airing on HereTV, recently won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Children’s Program. While most of our blog entries have focused on historical works or …August 23, 2021
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