The Flinders MPPDA Archive publishes News and Events when there are significant developments with the site.

December 2013 - An update on use of the MPPDA Digital Archive

Use of the MPPDA Digital Archive has continued to expand throughout 2013.  There are now over 300 approved MPPDA users, and a large proportion of our subscribers are making frequent return visits to the site.  Over half of our users have accessed multiple files on multiple occasions, and 10 percent of subscribers have logged in more than 10 times.

In the past 12 months there have been 5157 visits to the MPPDA Digital Archive resulting in some 32,551 page views, or about one view for every page in the Archive! Visits by users from the United States (2760) were the highest followed by Australia (621), United Kingdom (421), Canada (203) and France (145). Registered users come from all over the world, with 175 Universities and professional organisations represented. 

An examination of archive searches shows that the most common nominated ‘Research Interests’ include keywords “Hollywood”, “American Cinema”, “Film History”, “Censorship”, “Production Code”, “Film Sound and Colour”, “Exhibition”, “MPPDA”, “Pre Code Cinema”, “Trade” and “Will Hays”.

We know that the archive is used for teaching purposes at several universities, because we have received multiple sign-up requests from students and researchers at some key teaching institutions.  We welcome such interaction, and would be pleased to hear from subscribers as to how our files are being used for such teaching and research purposes, and how we might make the site more useful for teaching purposes. 

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated and we are always particularly interested to hear from people using the Archive for research publications and in their teaching.

Thank you for your continued interest in the MPPDA Digital Archive.


The Digital Archives of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America


The MPPDA Digital Archives consist of a database of the extant records of the General Correspondence files of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc., covering the period from 1922 to 1939.  



Established in 1922 and popularly known as the Hays Office, the MPPDA was the trade association for the motion picture industry, changing its name after Hays’ retirement in 1945 to its current title, the Motion Picture Association of America.


Although the documents in the MPPDA’s General Correspondence files contain only a fraction of the Association’s output, they nevertheless represent an immensely rich source of information about the political history of the industry and a number of its key activities and decisions.  They include extensive correspondence and other documentation relating to industry policy, public relations, trade practices, external censorship and self-regulation.  The great majority of this material is unavailable from other sources.




In 1965, the Motion Picture Association of America copied the General Correspondence files onto microfilm, and disposed of the original documents.  The archive was then stored in the MPAA’s New York offices, where it was largely unavailable to researchers.  Other than the heading used on the folder in which the original material was stored, no inventory of the contents was made. 


The 16 mm negative microfilm on which the material was recorded, lacked frame or edge numbers, making it difficult to find individual documents on the microfilm even if the researcher knows them to be there.


In 1984, Richard Maltby gained access to the archive in New York and was allowed to copy the twelve reels covering the period from 1922 to 1939, for further study.  Subsequently Sam Gill and Barbara Hall, Archivists of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, invited the MPAA to donate the records to the Academy’s Special Collections Department.  By the time the donation took place, however, several of the microfilm reels, including those covering the 1920s, had been misplaced, and have not subsequently been recovered.  The copies taken in 1984 are, therefore, the only surviving copies of the majority of the material in this archive.


Since acquiring the copies, Richard Maltby and Ruth Vasey have built up a catalogue of the archive and published work using the archive’s contents. Vasey’s The World According to Hollywood, 1918-1938, and Richard Maltby’s account of the Hays Office in Tino Balio’s Grand Design, and his articles and documentary essay on “The Genesis of the Production Code,” are examples.


Contemporary developments in digital technologies have made it possible to make the original archive material and catalogue much more accessible.  With the aid of research grants from Flinders University, the Australian Research Council and the Australian National Data Service a frame by-frame digital copy of the archive has been made.  This has led to the indexation of approximately 35,000 pages which have been further categorised into nearly 3500 records (each describing a document or a cluster of related documents). 


The contents of this rich, digitised archive are now publicly available in a fully web based version known as the MPPDA Digital Archive (  Emphasis on a user friendly system has been built into both front and back ends of this archive.  Users are able to view records in “snapshot” view or they can download full versions by completing a simple on-line registration process. 


Currently the archive contains the following materials and has a broad user group:


  • 35,000 digital images representing a copy of every page from the 12 original 16mm microfilm rolls accessed by Richard Maltby in 1984 categorised into 3379 records
  • 1169 referenced people with additional biographical information supplied for over 130 leading MPPDA characters
  • 757 referenced organisations, many with additional information included and associated with relevant records
  • 671 referenced films, many with additional date and studio details appended
  • over 275 associated transcriptions (in PDF format)
  • a searchable classification of all records according to type (eg letter, memo, minutes)
  • numerous legacy notes, editorial comments and over 200 keywords associated with records
  • there are currently 268 registered MPPDA users, including 260 file viewers and 8 administrators

·       31 people have logged in 10 times or more (excluding Administrators)

·       registered users come from all over the world with 175 Universities and Professional Organisations represented

·       the archive is clearly used for teaching purposes at several universities such as DePaul and St Josephs’s

·       most common nominated ‘Research Interests’ include keywords “Hollywood”, “American Cinema”, “Film History”, “Censorship”, “Production Code”, “Film Sound and Colour”, “Exhibition”, “MPPDA”, “Pre Code Cinema”, “Trade” and “Will Hays”

  • MPPDA 'Inspiring Research' Article

    August 2013 - An article on the MPPDA Digital Archive as published in 'Inspiring Research' at Flinders University.

    Read the full article...

  • MPPDA Digital Archive Usage Statistics

    July 2012:  A summary of MPPDA Digital Archive Usage Statistics is presented below.

    Read the full article...

  • MPPDA Digital Archive - Completion of the First Round

    August 2012 - Completion of first round of the "new" web based MPPDA Digital Archive site

    Read the full article...

  • Document Transcriptions

    June 2012:  A total of 275 document transcriptions have now been added to the MPPDA Archive.

    Read the full article...

  • News 2011 - 2012

    May 2012 - The Hays Code on The Bioscope

    Read the full article...