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HISTORIANS FILM COMMITTEE Edited by: Martin A.Jackson John E. O'Connor NEWSLETTER Vol. I , number 3 September, 1971 **** QUESTIONNAIRE REPORT **** Among the ideas discussed at the first meeting of the Historians Film Committee in 1970, one that received perhaps the warmest reception was the suggestion that the Committee prepare and circulate a questionnaire concerning film use among its members. The questionnaire has since been mailed out to everyone who has expressed interest in our group. We present here a summary of the results from the 80 forms that have been returned as of mid-September 1971. Not every member has returned the questionnaire, nor has every one been answered in full. This can hardly claim to speak for the attitudes on film of American historians in general, nor do we present these results as final or definative. It is a rough sample, but useful and suggestive as it stands. Most people answering the questionnaire said that they used film in their teaching occasionally (49), while a notable minority (22) claimed frequent use and only a few (9) said they never used film at all. The vast majority of our members , it seems, have used and are using film in their teaching . Answers indicate that motivation for class discussion (52) and developing a background for further study (42) are considered about equally important as benefits to be gained. Apparently very few teachers are limited by the lack of adequate projecting equipment in their schools (4), but lack of knowledge of pertinent materials (39) cost (46) and problems with the availability of specific films (33) were all considered serious limitations. Several added that they felt limited by a traditional approach to teaching which either dismisses film as a mere gimmick or fears that the film will replace the teacher as the basic purveyor of learning. There is, without doubt, the desire for more information and suggestions about sources of film for the classroom (63) and for innovative ideas as to using film effectively in teaching (33) . While some hoped eventually for a full-scale clearing house of information on film of historical interest, several mentioned that they had found the "Source Notes" section of the Newsletter helpful. There appears to be no shortage of novel ideas for film use, the problem is one of sharing and developing these ideas with others. It is understandable that, of those who replied to the questions concerning research through film, only a minority (30) said they could envision using it. Obviously the Ancient, Early American or French Revolutionary scholar has no film sources to draw upon. To those who did consider film research practicable, cost (30) location of film archives (30) and lack of methodology (20) were all considered serious limitations. Very few of those concerned elaborated on specific ways which they though film might add new dimensions to their work. At least ten of our members have been involved in the production of films on historical themes. Most producers noted their willingness to share their experiences with others and there was unanimous interest (71) in learning more about these projects. The questionnaire finally asked for suggestions concerning the activities and programs of the Committee. There were dozens of replies, indicating a deep interest in the Committee's future. Several Utopian souls suggested that the Committee compile a complete guide to all historical films. A few thought we should buy and rent films to our members at a discount, or produce films specifically for the classroom. All these ideas are, of course, open to consideration but there were some that seemed more practical at present. There was significant approval of the idea of film reviews by historians, as in the Newsletter. It was suggested that we begin reviewing films in current commercial distribution that might be of special interest to the historian. What, for instance, might a historian of the American West think of Little Big Man as an outside assignment for his class? Most wanted the Newsletter continued and expanded, and a few suggested a full-fledged journal of film and history. The Committee's role in lobbying for legislation on film archives etc. was noted and encouraged. One respondent thought we might act...


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