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Early Cinema: Topics in Chronicling America

Through the development of cameras and moving pictures, early cinema brought communities together. This guide provides access to material related to "Early Cinema" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Some of the things to be seen in moving picture shows." January 16, 1909. The Evening World (New York, NY), Image 9. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Before the advent of television came the cinema. At its beginnings, the cinema began through the development of cameras and successive "moving" pictures. Later, cameras were invented to project onto large screens. From then on, exhibitions and moving pictures shows became popular and wide-spread as a leisure past-time. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1882 E.J. Marey develops the Chronophotographic camera. It was able to shoot 12 successive pictures which was illustrated by birds in flight.
1889 George Eastman commercially sells his camera "Kodak" which used celluloid film. This film he invented was a superior format compared to glass negatives.
May 20, 1891 Edison holds the first public exhibit of his Kinetoscope, a viewer. During the same year, he invents the Kinetograph camera.
December 28, 1895 The Lumièr brothers in France hold the first public exhibition with their Cinématographe. It was the first camera to project to a large screen.
April 1896 Edison releases his own projection camera, Vitascope which used an improved version of Thomas Armat's Phantascope.
1902 Armat successfully sues Edison. Edison was disallowed from having a monopoly on the motion picture industry.
1905 First "nickelodeon" opens. By 1908, there are over 5,000 in the United States.
1910 The funeral of King Edward VII was shot in color.