William S. O'Farrell Fellowship

The William O'Farrell Fellowship, sponsored by James Lindner, is awarded to an individual engaged in research toward a publication, production, or presentation based on moving image history and culture, particularly amateur and nontheatrical film. With this fellowship, we honor the continuing legacy of Canadian film archivist William O’Farrell, a long time advocate for amateur and nontheatrical film collections.

The fellowship is designed to support a month’s study within Northeast Historic Film’s collections. Awardees must commit a minimum of two weeks to research in residency at NHF.

To learn more about, or apply for, the 2019 William O'Farrell Fellowship, see below.



Northeast Historic Film (NHF) is pleased to announce that Martin Johnson, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina, has been awarded the 2018 annual research fellowship.  The William O'Farrell Fellowship is awarded each year to an individual to conduct research at NHF toward a publication, production or presentation based on moving image history and culture.  The O'Farrell Fellowship is sponsored by Jim Lindner, a friend of Bill O’Farrell as well as a long-time mentor, and supporter of the archives. 

During his fellowship, Johnson will view advertising films held at Northeast Historic Film as part of research for his next book, The Best Advertisement Will Never Be Written: Advertising Films Before Television (1895-1939).  His research will focus on excerpts taken from the Paramount Pictograph screen magazines, a variety short film program that was popular in the late 1910s. Typical programs would include a travelogue, a government film, an animated film, and an advertising film (with titles such as “Shows grandma making candles 40 years ago. Now to be replaced with power plants.”). Although these segments were never identified as advertising, they were among the first moving image ads made for the general public. When exhibitors, and audiences, learned they were being shown ads in the movie theater, they rebelled, leading many exhibitors to adopt a strict no-ad policy in their theaters in the early 1920s. Advertisers responded by largely abandoning their dreams of showing movies in theaters, and instead turned to distributing films to schools, churches, civic clubs, and other institutions.
While most Paramount Pictographs are lost, some survive as 28mm copies, made in the late 1920s for home viewing. One of the largest collections of 28mm films in the United States is at Northeast Historic Film, part of the vast Alan Kattelle collection. In many cases, these 28mm copes are the only surviving prints of films made in the 1910s and 1920s, making the collection particularly valuable to researchers.  Johnson, whose first book, Main Street Movies: The History of Local Film in the United States, includes a chapter on the Movie Queen films held at the NHF, said he was delighted to return to Bucksport to research his next book, and honor the legacy of Bill O’Farrell, after whom the fellowship is named.
“While we think of advertising in movie theaters as a new, and unfortunate, development, in fact advertising films have been around for decades,” he said. “By carefully disguising the true ambitions of their films, advertisers helped create ways of telling stories that influenced the development of documentaries and educational films. With the support from the O’Farrell Fellowship, I hope to uncover the hidden links between advertisers and the nontheatrical film industry.”  It is expected that the results of Johnson's research will be presented at NHF's 2019 Summer Symposium.  For the last 19 years, NHF's Summer Symposium has been held in July at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.   

In 2017 Artemis Willis, a Ph. D. candidate at the University of Chicago, was awarded the Fellowship. Willis's project explores intersections, from the early 20th century, between non-theatrical motion pictures and lantern slides in Northern New England. Audiences were edified and entertained by both lantern slides and films during this period, but scholarly attention has largely focused on the work of celebrity travel lecturers such as E. Burton Holmes, while overlooking the regional and amateur lantern practices that were prevalent through the 1950s.  Through a study of NHF’s holdings of lantern slides, including material from seven different collections, Willis is uncovering a broader range of interactions between still and moving images on the level of production, exhibition and consumption.  

Andrea Mariani, University of Udine, Italy, received the 2016 Fellowship. He conducted his research in the Alan and Natalie Kattelle Collection, focusing on the amateur film technology of the 1920s and 1930s. He presented, “The Emergence of the Amateur Film Technology. The Amateur Cinema League and The Alan Kattelle Technology Collection at the Northeast Historic Film Archive” at The Politics of Film Archival Practice in Stockholm in 2016, and will return to NHF in 2017.

The 2015 award went to Ryan Shand, PhD, Research Assistant, University of the West of Scotland. His project focuses on Counterpoint, a 1929 amateur fiction film made by Roy Lockwood. “This film was made as a student project at Oxford University, however prints of Counterpoint do not seem to exist in the United Kingdom and scholars have made no reference to it so far." Northeast Historic Film appears to hold the only extant copy of this film.

The 2014 award went to Liz Czach, Associate Professor, Dept. of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta. Czach's project is focused on sound in amateur film. Her research at NHF drew on the large collection of newsletters and magazines aimed at amateur filmmakers (e.g., Movie Makers, Bolex Reporter), the Alan Kattelle technology collection, which consists of over 800 cameras and projectors, and the Archie Stewart Collection's exceptional amateur sound films. 

The 2013 award went to Graeme Richard Spurr, a postgraduate student in Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow.  Spurr's research project, The "Vexed Question of Video": Charting Transatlantic Amateur Media Practice. This research is related to Mr. Spurr's ongoing PhD thesis Post-Film/Amateur Video: The Diffusion of New Media in the UK Amateur Cine Movement.   

The 2012 winner of the Fellowship was Oliver Gaycken, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of English.  His project focused on the role film played in the depiction and development of forestry culture during the middle part of the twentieth century, roughly 1935-1985. 

Walter Forsberg, a Research Fellow in New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, was the 2011 Fellow.  His project explored the Donald C. Brown Jr. Collection of 35mm drive-in and theatrical trailers, from over a dozen cinemas in New England and West Virginia.

In 2010, the first year the Fellowship was awarded, the recipient was Caitlin McGrath, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago, who conducted research here at NHF on the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Her research used films from 15 different NHF collections.

Starting in 2017 the O'Farrell Fellowship will be permanently sponsored by James Lindner, a friend of Bill O’Farrell as well as a long-time mentor, and supporter of the archives. 


Information about the Fellowship


  • Researchers from all academic disciplines are eligible and encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants may be current graduate students, faculty, or staff at a college or university; archive professionals; film producers; or independent scholars.
  • The fellowship is open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with appropriate visas.
  • Proposed research must be for work intended for publication, production, or presentation with significant research in the collections of Northeast Historic Film.

Selection Criteria

The William O'Farrell Fellowship selection committee reviews the following:

  • The applicant's experience,
  • The significance and interest value of the project, and
  • The appropriateness of the proposed research to the collections of Northeast Historic Film.

Available support

  • The program provides a stipend of $1,500,
  • Staff support with access to NHF collection and related databases,
  • Use of film and videotape viewing facilities within NHF business hours,
  • Up to 8 hours of in-house staff time for access copies and/or editing services, if applicable (fees waived),
  • Permissions for educational and research purposes if there are no donor or other exceptions (fees waived), and
  • Office space including a computer with network and internet connections, telephone, and photocopier.
  • Housing is not provided, but NHF staff will assist the fellow in identifying lodging if needed. (Please note, seasonal rentals are plentiful on the Maine coast, but they can be expensive. Off-season rentals typically start at $400 - $600/week. Summer rates are higher. Short-term apartment rentals are difficult to find, but may be available for $600 - $1,200/month.)

How to Apply

A complete application consists of an application form and a current curriculum vitae (not to exceed three pages). 

Application materials should be emailed to Jennifer L. Jenkins, Chair, O'Farrell Fellowship Committee, jenkinsj@email.arizona.edu.  The complete application must be received no later than Apri 15, 2019.  The fellowship will be awarded on or before May 1, 2019.

Other Requirements

The fellowship may be assumed any time beginning May 2, 2019, and must be completed by October 31, 2019. The fellow is required to produce an 800 – 1,200 word journalistic article describing activities and findings for publication by NHF.

The fellow is required to conduct a minimum of two weeks research on site at NHF.

Participation in NHF’s Summer Film Symposium in 2019 and/or 2020 is expected. (The award will include, in addition to the $1,500 fellowship, complimentary symposium registration.)

About Northeast Historic Film

Northeast Historic Film, an independent nonprofit organization, was founded in 1986 to preserve and make available moving images of interest to the people of northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts). We hold ten million feet of film in 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 28mm, and 35mm and 8,000 analog and digital video recordings that do not duplicate the film holdings. While the collections were acquired based on their relationship to northern New England, some encompass geography and topics beyond the region due to the histories and interests of the creators. NHF finding aids may be found at www.oldfilm.org/collection/. Moving Images of Work Life, 50 collections newly described thanks to a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Services Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program, are at www.oldfilm.org/collection/index.php/Browse/HiddenCollectionsList.

NHF is located in a 1916 cinema building with three floors of cold storage and a study center, where the organization hosts an annual Summer Symposium and runs a community cinema.

The William O’Farrell Fellowship was established in 2009 to honor an important individual who contributed in significant ways to the history of NHF. Bill O’Farrell (1954-2008) worked as Chief, Moving Image and Audio Conservation of the Archives of Canada. He was a valued Advisor to NHF, providing intellectual and practical support to the archives for many years.

Further information about Northeast Historic Film can be found at www.oldfilm.org.