A -to- Z of Silent Serials


This is the latest of several online exhibitions to be mounted as part of the Norman Studios Digital Resource Center (NSDRC), a new project of the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum. The NSDRC exhibits will explore the history of silent filmmaking, especially silent race filmmaking, and promote awareness of the many film producers, directors, and performers who helped to shape that vital history.

The Norman Studios Silent Film Museum plays a seminal role in preserving the legacy of pioneering race filmmaker Richard E. Norman and promoting his remarkable contributions to American film and popular culture. One of the few surviving silent film studios (and the only surviving race film studio), the NSSFM celebrates Florida’s rich film heritage and encourages collaboration and networking among filmmakers and film enthusiasts.

Important and exciting work on race film is being done by individuals and by institutions across the country. Websites and digital projects such as UCLA’s “Early African American Film: Reconstructing the History of Silent Race Films, 1909-1930,” and the Wharton Studio Museum/Finger Lakes Film Trail’s digital film and lecture series, Race Films/Race Matters, offer valuable introductions. And the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana—the archive for the Richard E. Norman Collection (donated by the late Captain Richard E. Norman)—supports the study of Norman in particular and African American films in general.

Significant work in film preservation, research, and scholarship continues to be conducted in numerous places, paramount among them the Library of Congress, Moving Picture Division, under the direction of Mike Mashon; UCLA Film and Television Archive; the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York; the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The NSDRC hopes to add to the excellent work being done by these and other institutions by furthering an appreciation of Richard E. Norman and his contemporaries and by increasing awareness of those filmmakers’ impressive achievements in early cinema history.

This digital exhibit was created by Barbara Tepa Lupack, the author of Literary Adaptations in Black American Cinema: From Micheaux to Morrison (University of Rochester Press, 2002; expanded ed., 2010), Richard E. Norman and Early Race Filmmaking (Indiana University Press, 2013), and Silent Serial Sensations: The Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema (Cornell University Press, 2020) and the editor of Early Race Filmmaking in America (Routledge, 2015). The exhibit was designed by Cher Davis, owner and founder of Brand U Love, who serves on the NSSFM’s Board of Advisors.

For further information about the Norman Studios Digital Resource Center or to inquire about reprint permissions, please contact Barbara Tepa Lupack, Editor, at blupack@normanstudios.org.