Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


American Studies


Charles McGovern

Committee Members

Susan Kern

Timothy L. Barnard


How could an important collection of some of the first American motion pictures remain unnoticed and uncatalogued in a cabinet in a hallway of the National Museum of American History for decades? That museum's Mutoscope Collection includes early and lost films by pioneers of the medium, but curators neglected the objects because their format and content fell short of the early twentieth century definition of museum film. The history of the Mutoscope Collection is an instructive case study in the way that strict adherence to cultural hierarchies hurt curators' attempts to create and disseminate accurate, inclusive knowledge about the past; the collection's reinterpretation is a positive step towards a better understanding of early cinema culture.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only