The Programme Database

About the database

The programme database contains a sample of film programmes from 1905 to 1914, mostly from permanent cinemas, compiled from the newspapers of nine German cities of different regions and sizes (c. 1,200 programmes from c. 100 cinemas, containing c. 3,800 different films).

The data was complied by the research project “Industrialisierung der Wahrnehmung” (“Industrialization of Perception”), funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and situated at the University of Siegen, Germany. The current database framework with extended search and filter options was developed within the research project “Visual Communities”.

Due to limited manpower and time, a selection had to be made, both geographical and temporal. Regarding the geographical selection, three regions were created: Northwest (A), Middle and East (B), and South (C). In each region, three cities of different sizes were selected (large cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, medium sized cities with 20,000-100,000 inhabitants, and small towns with less than 20,000 inhabitants): in region A Hamburg, Hagen and Rendsburg, in region B Leipzig, Görlitz and Pirna, and in region C Munich, Würzburg and Weiden.


Regarding the temporal selection, three months of each year were chosen. In each month, the newspapers of the three cities within the same region were searched. The next year, the following month was chosen as starting point, and so on.

Table of Selected Months

Due to the limited sampling, it is not possible to create hit lists of films based on runs. Nor do the programmes contain all of the films shown in Germany. Furthermore, even though the programme database is linked to the supply database, to help identify the films that appear in the programmes, the programme database is only searchable for information actually contained in the programmes. Conversely, however, screenings from the programme database appear in the information on a film in the film supply database. Finally, rather than scanning the programmes, the data was typed in manually, in order to improve searchability. Some comments about the advertisements’ structure, e.g. prominently featured names, were made, but researchers who want to see what they looked like exactly will have to consult the original sources (which are stated).

Despite these limitations, the programme database does provide a very valuable overview of the kinds of films that were selected by cinema owners. Hence, significant trends can be explored - for example, how the average length of films developed over time, which genres were most popular, and whether these trends depended on the size of a city. As in the film supply database, in addition to searchability, a few basic analysis functions are provided.

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