Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Amos Vogel papers, 1896-2001, bulk 1960-1990

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
Title Amos Vogel papers, 1896-2001, bulk 1960-1990
Physical Description 66 linear feet (146 document boxes 1 halfsize box 6 index card boxes 1 flat box)
Language(s) English , German .

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.

All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting. 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 rbml@columbia.edu for more information.



This collection is arranged in 7 series.



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.

  • Series II: Film Files, 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 are documented 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Series VII: Additions to the Papers

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.

All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting. 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 rbml@columbia.edu 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.

Preferred Citation

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

Ownership and Custodial History

This collection was purchased in 2005.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Lea Osborne 2008 November.

Revision Description

2009-06-12 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne

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

2020-10-20 Changes to Series II title and description made by CCR, in order to clarify that the papers do not include films.

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.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Articles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Essays Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Film clips Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journals (accounts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sound recordings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Video recordings (physical artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


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

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

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.