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   Amos Vogel Papers, 1896-2001 [Bulk Dates: 1960-1990]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Amos Vogel Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


This collection documents the professional work of film critic, professor, and author, Amos Vogel. The bulk of the records are concerned with numerous films that Vogel has screened for Cinema 16, the independent film society that he founded and directed for sixteen years, as well as administrative records, correspondence, photographs, and printed material

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1432
Bib ID:5541450 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Vogel, Amos, 1921-
Title:Amos Vogel Papers, 1896-2001 [Bulk Dates: 1960-1990]
Physical description:66 linear feet (146 document boxes, 1 half-size box, 6 index card boxes, 1 flat box, 4 record boxes, 4 oversized folders)
Language(s): In English; Materials in German indicated at the subseries level.
Access: This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »



This collection is arranged in six series.

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Scope and Content

This collection documents primarily the professional work of Amos Vogel. The bulk of the records are concerned with films that Vogel screened for festivals, courses, and Cinema 16. These records consist of film files, notebooks, and hundreds of stills from films that were rarely seen. The second largest portion of the collection is writings, in the form of articles, essays, speeches, short stories, manuscripts, and numerous drafts. Also included are administrative records pertaining to the management of Cinema 16, audio visual material, such as teaching slides, and a small amount of personal documents from Vogel's early life.

Series I: Cinema 16, 1914-1996

Series I consists of records documenting the creation and day-to day-maintenance of the independent film organization Cinema 16 from its inception until its dissolution in 1963. The records provide insight into the daily work needed to promote the society, procure the various films, and operate in a successful and sustainable manner. The series is arranged in three subseries: Administrative Records, Correspondence, and Program Notes. Please note that the records are not limited to the lifetime of the organization; however, but also document the effect that Cinema 16 had on later groups and film societies.

Subseries I.1: Administrative Files, 1914-1994

Subseries 1 contains general administrative records about the workings of the society. Special events, such as the Children's Cinema, a series dedicated to providing unusual and unique films to children, and the "field trips" to the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York are documented here. This subseries also holds administrative records concerning other related film projects conducted by Amos and Marcia Vogel during the lifespan of the society as well as articles and interviews with the founders.

Subseries I.2: Correspondence, 1947-1996

Letters found in this subseries are between Amos Vogel and various film distributors, Cinema 16 members, potential guest speakers, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, film makers, and fans. There are also documents held in this subseries that are about specific individuals, rather than correspondence with. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by either the last name of the individual and institution or by the topic, for example "Art in Cinema."

Subseries I.3: Program Notes, 1947-1963

Subseries 3 is composed of programs handed out at each Cinema 16 screening. The pamphlets span the entire existence of Cinema 16 and present a detailed overview of the types of films Vogel chose. These programs provided basic information concerning each film such as the titles, dates of creation (and release if of interest), and biographies of the directors and actors. More importantly, the film is placed within an historical context and oftentimes briefly analyzed for the audience. Information about future screenings and upcoming special events were also listed in the program notes.

Series II: Films, 1896-2001

Series II comprises the bulk of the Amos Vogel Papers. Vogel screened hundreds of films for showing at Cinema 16 as well as for the various film festivals he organized and ran, and the guest lectures and regular classes that he taught. Many of these films exist only in this collection and are either out-of-print or inaccessible. In addition to the film files themselves, Vogel kept files on specific directors and notebooks from conferences and panels. Other film-related records held within this series include documents relating to Lincoln Center and the establishment of the New York Film Festival.

Subseries II.1: Film Files, 1896-1993

This subseries is arranged alphabetically by the title of the film or film series. Titles listed vary widely from obscure films that may have only been shown for Cinema 16 events to Hollywood-produced blockbusters. The files consists of promotional material such as fliers, posters, quotes, plot summaries, and biographical information about the film’s creators, articles and reviews from major news and film sources, analyses by other film critics, and photographs. Please note that all film stills have been separated and may be found in Series V, Subseries 2. Most importantly, Vogel himself often wrote notes about the films in preparation for published articles, which were included in this subseries, programs notes for Cinema 16, and lecture material for his courses. Within this subseries is a substantial number of oversized printed material in the form of posters, publicity-focused advertisements, and pamphlets.

Subseries II.2: Director Files, 1930-1985

Materials concerning influential directors are held in the second subseries. Articles written by Amos Vogel and other authors about specific directors and their films, interviews, printed material, and correspondence may be found here. Although Vogel kept separate director files, it appears as if he cross-referenced both Subseries 1 and 2 when composing articles and lectures.

Subseries II.3: Notebooks, 1974-1995

Vogel took copious notes at various film festivals, film series, and conferences in the notebooks contained in this subseries. These running notes offer insight into Vogel's views on a particular film during the screening. In particular, the notes document the impact the film had on Vogel as it progressed from the opening to the closing credits. While the majority of the notebooks were identified with an individual festival or conference, some of the notebooks had simply a date. However, Vogel often identified the titles of the films reviewed in each notebook regardless of whether a festival was named. In some cases there are related documents, such as printed material, from the festivals themselves

Subseries II.4: Festivals and Conferences 1934-1997

Throughout Amos Vogel's career, he actively screened films for potential showing at Cinema 16 events, Annenberg film classes, and various lectures and talks. These films were also the potential subject matter for articles as well as inclusion in Vogel's book, Film as Subversive Art. The files in this subseries are from film festivals and conferences held within the United States and in Europe. Within the files are printed matter, such as programs and descriptions of the films and publicity material from the production company, newspaper clippings, articles from both performing arts and mainstream publications and, of course, Vogel's own copious notes. The subseries is arranged by festival or conference title and within that chronologically.

Subseries II.5: Subject Files, 1947-2001

This subseries holds topical files. The majority of the subseries consists of poop sheets and printed material for films that Amos Vogel screened. There is also a large amount of documents in regards to Vogel's work as co-founder and director of the Lincoln Center Film Festival from the early 1960s until the early 1970s. Held in this series is correspondence with friends and colleagues spanning from about the mid-1970s until the 2000s. Notable individuals include Werner Herzog, "Weegee," and Jonas Mekas.

Series III: Writings, 1896-1996

Series III is comprised of Amos Vogel's writings in the form of manuscripts, lectures, essays, articles, and short-stories. The majority of the texts exist in multiple drafts, both typed and handwritten. Also included in this series are speeches Vogel gave at film events and lectures from his classes at various New York universities.

Subseries III.1: Manuscripts, 1896-1979

Amos Vogel published his first book, Film as a Subversive Art, in 1974. Financial records, correspondence with the publishing house, research material, notes and stills (used and rejected) from the book are held in this subseries. There is one copy of the German translation in this subseries as well. Also included is material related to an unrealized book project entitled The Second Rape of the Marquise de O. This book was to be a critical analysis of Erich Romer's film based on the book by Heinrich von Kleist. Documents related to this project consist primarily of research notes written by Vogel, articles about Kleist in general, and the film, in particular, and drafts of proposals for funding.

Subseries III.2: Lectures and Speeches, 1957-1994

This small subseries holds speeches written by Amos Vogel for notable film events, such as the American Film Institute's Maya Deren event and the Pacific Film Archive's film conference. Lectures given at a range of academic institutions are also held here. Note that these lectures were conducted on a one-time basis. Semester-long academic lectures are found in Subseries III.3.

Subseries III.3: Academic Courses, 1951-1995

Subseries 3 consists primarily of documents relating to courses that Amos Vogel taught at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Each course section contains the syllabi of films to be screened as well as assignments, podium notes, including the timing for screening the films, printed material, such as flyers and bulletins advertising the courses, and Vogel's own class notes. These last documents are especially salient as they illuminate Vogel's thought process and illustrate one way that film courses can develop over a semester. There is a small amount of material from courses Vogel taught at New York University, the New School, and other unnamed academic institutions.

Subseries III.4: Short Stories, 1960-1985

Subseries 4 is the smallest of Series III and holds short stories, often with multiple annotated drafts accompanying the final product. Some of these stories were written for children, such as "The Hamburger Hold-up" and "Loring and the Skyscraper." Not present is the Maurice Sendak illustrated "How Little Loring went to Times Square." Stories for adults include pieces concerned with genocide, in particular the Holocaust, memory, relationships between individuals, spirituality and faith, and societal roles and mores.

Subseries III.5: Articles and Essays, 1958-1996

The last subseries consists primarily of articles and essays that Amos Vogel regularly contributed to such well-known publications as Film Comment, Evergreen, The New York Times, and The Village Voice. Within these texts, Vogel addressed the then-current film culture, including the issues faced by avant-garde directors, and the future of the independent (and mainstream) film industry. He also reviewed films that he had screened at various festivals that had stood out in some way. Also held in this subseries are letters sent to editors, program notes for film festivals, in particular the New York Film Festival, which he founded, and book reviews.

Series IV: Photographs, 1920-1999

Series IV is composed of photographs, both professional and nonprofessional, contact sheets, and negatives. There are also slides that Amos Vogel used in to conduct his film lectures. Subjects of these images vary from individuals, such as famous directors and actors, events, for example the Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, and stills from films themselves. This series is divided into two subseries: General and Film Stills.

Subseries IV.1: General, 1927-1999

Photographs, contact sheets, and negatives held in this subseries are more general in nature. Images in regards to Cinema 16 events and numerous film festivals are held here. Individuals include prominent filmmakers, such as Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock and the Maysles, as well as individuals known as much for their screen time as their behind-the-camera work, for example Charlie Chaplin and Jack Nicholson. There are also photographs from certain Cinema 16 events, for example the "Poetry and the Film" Symposium that featured photographs of writers such as Dylan Thomas and Arthur Miller. Also of interest are photographs from the 1968 filmmakers strike at Cannes in which Jean-Luc Godard, Luis Malle, François Truffaut, Roman Polanski, and other major directors pulled out their films in solidarity with the student and labor uprisings occurring all over the country. Photographs listed under Vogel's VIP term include notable individuals such as John and Yoko Lennon, Salvador Dali, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Subseries IV.2: Film Stills, 1920-1994

This second subseries is composed primarily of photographs from films screened by Amos Vogel. Although there are stills from more "mainstream" films, the bulk of the films represented were independently produced. In many cases, these photographs may be the only surviving visual documentation of a particular production. The photographs are arranged alphabetically by film title and span Vogel's career. Some include accompanying material, such as publicity advertisements, negatives, and annotations written by Vogel for photographs that were used in his book Film as a Subversive Art .

Subseries IV.3: Slides, 1970s-1988

Subseries 3 consists of slides from Vogel's courses taught at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania. These are the visual guides to the extensive lecture notes held in Series III, Subseries 4. The majority of the slides indicate what course they relate to as well as the lecture title.

Series V: Audio Visual Material, 1946-1980s

Series V contains audio visual material the bulk of which is reel-to-reel and audiocassette tapes. Recorded onto the tapes are interviews of Amos Vogel, film conferences and special events, soundtracks to various independent films, and lecture notes. Of interest are several interviews conducted by Vogel with such notable individuals as Werner Herzog, Yoko Ono, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Ingmar Bergman. There is also a small amount of original soundtracks on 33 ½ LPs.

Series VI: Personal, 1932-2000

This small series contains personal material of Amos Vogel's and information about him as an individual, not necessarily about his professional work. The series has been arranged in two subseries: Early Life and About Amos Vogel.

Subseries VI.1: About Amos Vogel, 1960s-2000

Subseries 1 is comprised of records about Amos Vogel and is arranged topically. The bulk of the material is from the documentary produced by Egon Humer about the expulsion of Jewish individuals from Austria. Included with this material is correspondence, publicity-related documents, and printed material. Other documents consist of interviews with Amos Vogel, reviews and articles about his written works, reference letters submitted as evidence that he should receive tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, and awards that were given to him.

Subseries VI.2: Early Life, 1932-1937

Subseries 2 holds documents dating from Vogel's childhood. A Tagebuch entitled "Zwischen 15 und 17" and a journal from his art class in 1932 are found here. Both of these items are in German.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions.

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Amos Vogel Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed in November 2008 by Lea Osborne.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion March 25, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-06-12 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne

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Subject Headings

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

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Film clips.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Film stills.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Journals (accounts).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Short stories.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
American Film Festival--(New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Annenberg School of Communications (University of Pennsylvania)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cannes Film Festival.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Children's films.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cinema 16 (Society : New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cinema 16 (Society : New York, N.Y.)--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Deren, Maya.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Documentary films.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Experimental films.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Film festivals.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Independent filmmakers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Independent films--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Independent films.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
MacDonald, Scott, 1942-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Motion pictures.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Social conditions.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Vogel, Amos.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Independent film in New York City has had several champions throughout its lifetime; one of the most vocal and committed being film critic and historian, Amos Vogel. Vogel, with his wife Marcia, has spent a lifetime promoting independent film and filmmakers, first through their non-profit membership organization, Cinema 16, and later as director of the New York Film Festival under the umbrella of Lincoln Center.

Amos Vogel (neé Vogelbaum) was born in Vienna Austria, on April 18, 1921. His mother, Matel, was a kindergarten teacher and his father, Samuel, a lawyer. According to an interview by Scott MacDonald, Vogel had always shown an interest in the cinema, frequenting many screenings and was a member of a large film society in Vienna. He was forced to emigrate during the Anschluss and fled to Cuba with his mother. After a short period in detention, Vogel was able to enter the United States settling in New York in 1939. He received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics at the New School for Social Research in 1949. During his time as an undergraduate, Vogel married Marcia Diener. It was also at this time that Vogel became aware of the abundance of 16 mm film that existed, but were not being shown to the public, mainly because of cost. These were not avant-garde film, but films that could be considered nonfiction, e.g. educational films, documentaries.

In 1947, Vogel and his wife, Marcia, founded Cinema 16 which grew into the largest film society within the United States. At its pinnacle, the society had seven thousand members who regularly attended screenings at the High School of Fashion Industries (in Manhattan) and other locations throughout New York City. Vogel, his wife Marcia, and later his assistant Jack Goelman spent countless hours screening films, creating events based upon numerous themes, and writing extensive program notes in order to engage their audiences with independent cinema. By the 1950s, Cinema 16 had begun to establish itself as a salient distributor of independent film. These were distributed to film societies, universities, museums, and other interested parties.

As the influence of Cinema 16 spread, Vogel added special events to the regular and scrupulously planned screenings. A Children's Cinema designed for aged 4 through 8 ran for two seasons. For three years, in collaboration with the Curator of Film at the George Eastman House, Vogel brought Cinema 16 members onto "field trips" where they spent an entire weekend devoted to nothing but film. There were courses sponsored by Cinema 16 at local universities and institutions. Several publications were issued, including an essay on Kurasawa's Rashomon by Parker Tyler and a quarterly entitled Filmwise. Awards, such as the Robert Flaherty Award for documentary film and the Creative Film Foundation Awards (1956-1960), for experimental films, helped focus attention upon the growing interest in independent and experimental cinema.

By the early 1960s, running Cinema 16 became increasingly difficult. Rising financial costs, coupled with competition from other entertainment venues, such as art-house theaters and television made sustaining a viable and vibrant organization almost impossible. Cinema 16's final season was in 1963. In the early 1990s, Cinema 16 retrospectives and tributes were conducted at the Anthology Film Archives, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Film Forum.

Vogel went on to be director of The New York Film Festival, a position he held from 1963 until 1968 and director of the Film Department (1964-1968), both at Lincoln Center. Later he served as a film consultant for Grove Press and National Educational Television, and in 1973, was named a professor of communications at the Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania. He held this position until 1993. Vogel has also been visiting faculty at Harvard, New York University, and Columbia University.

In addition to his teaching, Amos Vogel is a prolific author. He was a columnist for \ The Village Voice and Film Comment from 1971 until 1985. In 1974, he wrote a book entitled Film as a Subversive Art, an analysis of the ways in which "subversive" material, be it ideological or sexual, can be used within the medium of film in order to manipulate the viewers conscious and unconscious mind. Vogel examines over five hundred films, many of which were rarely seen or banned works. The book was translated into five languages and issued in ten editions. Vogel was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Cineaste, Saturday Review, Quarterly Review of Film Studies, Hollywood Quarterly, Afterimage, Antioch Review, and other film publications.

He was a member of innumerable international film juries and was an invited guest of Cannes, Moscow, Berlin, Venice, Karlovyvary, Oberhausen, and many other international film festivals. Honors for Amos Vogel include the 1994 and 1998 Award for Pioneering Work and Writings on behalf of Independent Cinema from the Anthology Film Archives and the Robert J. Flaherty International Film Seminars, respectively. He also holds an honorary M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Marcia Vogel passed away in February 2009. She is survived by her husband and her two sons, Steven and Loring. Amos continues to live in New York City.

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