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Rare and Manuscript Collections

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Moving Image & Sound Recordings

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections has extensive holdings of film and video, sound recordings, and digital materials in all formats. These materials are exceptional sources for the historical study of media technologies, as well as a means of understanding various subject collections.

Our collections include over 15,000 motion pictures, from 8mm and 16mm films to magnetic and digital video formats. Topics of note in our film and video collections are the broadcasts of psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers and video recordings made by AIDS activist Phil Zwickler. Also among our collections are motion pictures depicting Cornell University, early Ithaca, and national politics.

We hold over 61,000 sound recordings in formats from wax cylinders and wire recordings to reel-to-reel tapes, LPs, and CDs. Our audio collections include recordings documenting musical movements such as hip hop and punk, as well as field recordings by scientists such as ornithologist Arthur Allen. Other notable audio materials include oral histories and radio programs related to Cornell, as well as progressive news programs such as the Rest of the News.

Prominent among the Division’s growing digital and new media collections is the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, a collection of digital and interactive art with a concentration on 21st century developments in cinema, video, installation, photography, and sound.

Access Guidelines

Due to the fragility and potential degradation of moving image and sound recordings, viewing and listening is limited to items that have been digitized. If an item is in another media format, you may request to have the item digitized for access. Information on ordering access copies may be found on our Reproductions & Permissions page.