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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in ten series.
Personal and professional papers of the filmmaker, film writer, and educator Cecile Starr (1921-2014). Material formats include personal documents, photographs, audiocassettes (primarily interviews of Starr and others), and printed material. The content includes family and personal correspondence; professional correspondence; materials relating to Southern writers including James Agee and Randall Jarrell; materials related to Starr's secondary, college, and university education; teaching materials regarding filmmaking courses taught at Columbia University, the New School, and elsewhere; and manuscripts and preparation materials for published and unpublished articles. There are also records related to Starr's film distribution activities and the Women's Independent Film Exchange (W.I.F.E.), which Starr co-founded and co-directed.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
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.
Two folders of the collection contain medical records of Cecile Starr and possibly other individuals. These are closed to researchers until 2089.
This collection is located on-site.
Some unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are available onsite via links in the container list. Commercial materials are not routinely digitized. Email email@example.com for more information.
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); Cecile Starr papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Four additions to the collection were received in 2009, 2011, and 2014. These materials are located in Boxes 12-36.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ownership and Custodial History
Gift of Cecile Starr, 1998.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Papers: Source of acquisition--Starr, Cecile. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1998. Accession number--M-1998.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers Added to RLIN HR 05/30/2002.
The four additions to the collection were physically integrated during processing. Components of the additions were intellectually integrated into Series I, II, and VII. They also make up the entirety of Series X: Subject files. These materials were processed by Jennifer B. Lee, June 2021.
Container list uploaded and front matter edited by Celeste Brewer, June 2021.
2009-03-05 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2021-06-24 Finding aid updated to incorporate additions to the collection. CLB
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Filmmaker, film writer, and educator Cecile Starr (1921-2014) was born in Nashville, Tennessee on July 14, 1921, and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received a B.A. in Romance Languages from Louisiana State University in 1941 and a masters degree in Adult Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1952. She then taught film history and criticism in Columbia's Graduate Film department from 1955 until 1961.
Starr worked as non-theatrical writer and editor for the quarterly "Film Forum Review" from 1946 until 1949 and the weekly "Saturday Review" from 1949 until 1959. She also published freelance articles in "The New York Times" and various film journals, sometimes on highly controversial subjects. Starr wrote or edited four books: "Ideas on Film" (1951); "Film Society Primer" (1956); "Discovering the Movies" (1972); and "Experimental Animation", with Robert Russett (1976, revised 1988). As a scriptwriter and producer, her films include the award-winning "Fellow Citizen, A. Lincoln" and "Islamic Carpets."
For 35 years Starr worked as a part-time, home-based distributor, renting and selling films on behalf of friends and colleagues, including Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Bute, Hans Richter and others. In 1977 she founded and became co-director of the Women's Independent Film Exchange (W.I.F.E.), and in 1991 she received one of the Anthology Film Archive's Film Preservation awards.
Starr married filmmaker Aram Boyajian in 1957. They had two children and one grandson. Cecile Starr died in Vermont in December 2014.