|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
At a Glance
Arranged in one series.
The collection is primarily composed of periodicals, books, and printed ephemera related to cinema and film studies. It was assembled by Norman Witty, a cinephile and dealer of rare books, comics, and posters. The subject matter of the collection reflects Witty's particular interests in silent films and French New Wave cinema. The materials date from 1917 to 2008.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Norman Witty Cinema Collection; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Frances Witty Hamermesh also donated more than two hundred graphic novels from Norman Witty's collection to Columbia University Libraries. Inscribed copies are located in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Other copies are in the circulating collection. These materials can be found by searching the Libraries' catalog, CLIO, using the term "Frances Witty Hamermesh."
Ownership and Custodial History
The collection was donated to Barnard College Archives in 2014 by Norman Witty's sister, Frances Witty Hamermesh (Barnard College Class of 1965). Some items were incorporated into the Barnard Library's circulating collection, and the rest were transferred to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2018. Witty sold much of his personal collection in 2004; the materials donated to Barnard College Archives represent the remainder.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Processed by Martha Tenney.
Processed by Tamsin Ramjit.
Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer.
2018-05-16 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Norman Witty (1941-2013) was a cinephile and dealer of vintage movie posters, comics, and books.
Witty came to love movies in the mid-1950s as a teenager who frequented neighborhood theatres in the Dorchester and Mattapan sections of Boston. These included the Oriental Theatre, a movie palace built in the late 1920s, with ornate Chinese-themed interiors and twinkling stars on the ceiling. He moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Northwestern University. Witty began his collection while in Los Angeles, and eventually began trading and selling items sourced in Los Angeles on the East coast.
In the early 1970s, Witty moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he operated the bookstore Omega Books for approximately fifteen years. He frequented antiquarian book shows and film and comic book festivals, where he purchased and traded for things he loved. He regularly participated in the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair; the Giornate del Cinema Muto (silent film festival) in Pordenone, Italy; and comic book festivals in Lucca, Italy and Angoulême, France. He purchased and traded for books of interest, not necessarily books that would be marketable. He loved silent film and silent film actresses; Grace Kelly; and the films of John Ford, Godard, and Truffaut.
In addition to his interest in cinema, Witty was considered an expert in underground and vintage comic books. He died in New York City on November 21, 2013.