Norman Witty Cinema Collection, 1917-2008

Summary Information

Abstract

A collection of rare periodicals, books, and printed ephemera on topics related to cinema history, assembled by the cinema enthusiast and rare book collector Norman Witty (1941-2013).

At a Glance

Call No.:
MS#1933
Bib ID:
13263479 View CLIO record
Creator(s):
Witty, Norman
Repository:
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Physical Description:
5 linear feet (4 boxes)
Language(s):
English , Italian , French , Spanish; Castilian .
Access:
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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.

Description

Summary

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.

Arrangement

Arranged in one series.

Using the Collection

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Norman Witty Cinema Collection; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

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."

Accruals

Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Barnard College Archives. Method of acquisition--Transfer; Date of acquisition--2018. Accession number--2015.2016.M093.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed by Martha Tenney.

Processed by Tamsin Ramjit.

Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer.

Revision Description

2018-05-16 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

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.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches for other collections at Columbia University, through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, and through ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form
Periodicals CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Printed Ephemera CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Subject
Books CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
New wave films CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Silent films CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID