Guidelines: Profiles

Helpful Links

Published Examples: Xie Caizhen, Mabel Condon, and Helena Smith Dayton.

Submission Models: Adela Rogers St. Johns, Elvira Giallanella

Download the Submissions Checklist.

Profile Specifications

Tone: In your writing, please try to avoid the authoritative tone of traditional historical writing. The editors encourage writers to think creatively about the challenges of silent era motion picture research and to question previously published historical accounts. Make concrete references to film prints and paper archives as much as possible, highlighting not erasing the conditions of research. One way to do this is to answer these questions directly or indirectly in the profile:

Format: Profiles are typically 1,000-2,000 words in length (not including the bibliography, filmography, and credit report). Submissions should be double-spaced, paginated, use 12-point font, and should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document.

Citations & Bibliography: Our profiles follow a modified MLA style for all parenthetical in-text citations (author-page) and the corresponding bibliography. Please do not use endnotes or footnotes in your profile. Your bibliography should include all trade press articles, books, primary sources, archival documents, or interviews used in your profile, whether directly quoted in the text or not. Please organize alphabetically by author’s last name.

Archival Paper Collections: If relying on a specific archival paper collection, please list it at the bottom of the bibliography with as much information as possible. For example: Olga Petrova Collection, Folders 10-12, University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center. & (direct link to the finding aid, if available).

Filmography: We require that a pioneer’s filmography be split into two categories: A. Archival Filmography: Extant Film Titles and B. Filmography: Non-Extant Film Titles (see below for examples of each).

A. Archival Filmography: Extant Film Titles:

Dir.: director (Capitalize first letter in credits—usually the director)
Dir./sc.: director/screenwriter, scenario, or writer
Prod./dir.: producer and director
sc.: screenwriter, scenario, or writer
adp.: adaptation
sc./adp.: screenwriter/adaptor
story cont.: continuity
aut.:  author, silent cinema usage is broad
prod.: producer
exec. prod.: executive producer
co-prod/prod mgr: co-producer and production manager
ed.: editor
cam.: camera operator
ard.: art director
anm: animator
td.: title designer
ttl.: titles
cas.: cast member (list only major cast and other women film pioneers, if relevant)
si: silent   (no period)
si/sd: silent and sound versions
b&w: black and white (no period)

For example: The New York Hat. Dir.: D.W. Griffith, sc.: Anita Loos (Biograph Co. US 1912) cas.: Mary Pickford, Claire McDowell, Mae Marsh, Lionel Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Jack Pickford, si, b&w, 16 & 35mm. Archive: Cinémathèque Québécoise [CAMC], Cinemateca do Museu de Arte Moderna  [BRRC], Svenska Filminstitutet [SESS], George Eastman Museum  [USRG], Israel Film Archive / Jerusalem Cinematheque [ILJI], Library of Congress [USWL], Museum of Modern Art – Department of Film [USNM], National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) – Archival Unit & Preservation Lab [USWN], Library and Archives Canada [CAOL], BFI National Archive[GBLB], UCLA Film & Television Archive [USLU], UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) [USBU], Lobster Films [FRPL], Academy Film Archive [USLA], Eye Filmmuseum [NLAE].

Please list full name of film archive (FIAF-affiliated or not) and FIAF abbreviation if known. This will ensure that we publish the correct filmographic information. See our FIAF Film Archives  Resources page for more information. 

For any credit discrepancies, bracket Note and your include your commentary briefly after credits.

For example: Mabel’s Strange Predicament. Dir.: Henry Lehrman and Mack Sennett (Keystone US 1914)  cas.: Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, si, b&w, 16mm. Archive: Cineteca del Friuli [ITGC], Danish Film Institute [DKCD], Filmoteca Española [ESMF], Fundación Cinemateca Argentina [ARBF], BFI National Archive  [GBLB], Lobster Films [FRPL], Academy Film Archive [USLA], Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée [FRPC] [Note:  Directed by Normand, but also credited to Henry “Pathe” Lehrman and Mack Sennett].

Or: Long note on credit discrepancies may be placed after all credits in Credit Report (see below) at end of Filmography (after sections C, D & E).

 B. Filmography: Non-Extant Film Titles:

Sources for Credits: The AFI Catalogue and IMDb are useful places to start, as is the FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals & Treasures From Film Archives (can be accessed through ProQuest and requires an institutional login or subscription). Please note that while FIAF resources contain credits and silent-era film holdings of archives around the world, AFI may have a more complete cast list. You may also want to look through the contemporary trade press and film magazines via Media History Digital Library.

C. DVD Sources: Following the filmography, there is a space to list all DVD releases, if applicable. List title, distribution company, country, and year.

For example: Slapstick Encyclopedia.  DVD (Image Entertainment US 2002).

D. Streamed Media: Use this space to list any links to streaming films (the higher the quality the better) from official sources/platforms (online films, YouTube videos posted by archives and distributors, trailers, and more).

E. Unfinished Work: In some cases, an author may want to list unfinished film work by a pioneer following the “D. Streamed Media” section. Please list film title and (archival) status/existing materials/available information.

For example: Ritter Mönch und Liebe: film manuscript, prospective producer Institut für Kulturforschung. Held at the Lotte Reiniger Estate Collection in Tübingen, Germany.

Credit Report: This is a space for commentary on silent-era film credit discrepancies. Placed at end of the complete filmography, the credit report is where the author can explain which sources were used for credits and speculate about and comment on discrepancies.

For example: Credit Report: Numerous online sources claim Eve Unsell wrote scenarios for The Million (1914), Mrs. Black is Back (1914), The Morals of Marcus (1915), and Twice Born Woman (1921), however, her participation cannot be confirmed in the AFI catalogs. The Parasite (1925) is listed in some sources as being directed by Louis Gasnier and other sources by B.P. Schulberg. It is most likely that Schulberg produced and Gasnier directed.

Images: We encourage the inclusion of iconographic and documentary materials such as portraits, publicity stills, frame enlargements, and reproductions of texts such as fan magazine articles, short [auto]biographies, screenwriting manuals, correspondence, studio payrolls, contracts, death certificates, and scenarios.

When you submit your profile, please send along each image as a separate high-resolution jpeg file (300-600 dpi), along with short captions, and the source for each image. For example (placed in text): “Fig. 1. One-sheet for The Little American (1917). Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.” See published profiles for more examples.

Any permissions and/or associated fees for the reproduction of copyrighted materials in the profile are the sole responsibility of the author. Authors requesting the reuse of copyrighted materials may wish to use the Columbia Libraries’ Media Permissions Form.

Some suggestions for places with images under free license or in the public domain: Wikimedia Commons, Media History Digital Library, and the Internet Archive.

Miscellanea: Italicize all book and film titles, as well as trade press and newspaper names; use quotations for article titles, plays, doctoral theses, and songs; follow American English usage (e.g., color, center, recognize), and translate all quotes in another language to English (names of books and other sources in bibliography or film titles in the filmography may stay untranslated); set quotations within double inverted commas, quotations within quotations in single inverted commas; and quotations more than six lines long should start on the next line and should be indented.

Questions/issues with any of this? Send an email to