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University Film Society records

Identifier: uarc 388

Scope and Content

This collection contains alphabetical documentation on the films screened by this group. This includes publicity materials, stills, small amount of correspondence, booking requisitions, movie publicity materials, and materials from other institutions.


  • 1947-1952

Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law Title 17, U.S. Code. Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note of the University Film Society

The University Film Society UFS was first established in 1940 by Robert Kissack, assistant professor of visual education in General College. The film society was controlled by the Audio Visual Educational Service originally as a self sustaining enterprise with no special subsidy or allotted tax funds. The society sponsored foreign and art films and no first run films were shown. All films were selected by a student-faculty committee. The society occupied space in Wesbrook Hall and films were shown in Northrop Auditorium

In 1953 the film society was charged with unfair competition with commercial theaters who claimed that the University was outbidding small theater owners, in particular the owner of the Varsity and Campus Theaters near the University campus. The Board of Regents voted in January 1954 that the film society was not in unfair competition but established a three point policy for guidance in film presentations: the administration would maintain careful scrutiny of film selections, they would review contractual procedures in booking films and announcements of films would indicate their significance.

The University Film Society disbanded in 1957 due to the lack of audience attendence. In 1962 the Committee on University Movie Policy was established by Vice President Stanley Wenberg to set up an advisory committee that would act as a clearinghouse for motion picture matters on campus. This was in response to the fact that over 200 films were shown in a two year time span by various University organizations. The committee was headed by humanities professor George Amberg. As a result, the University Film Society UFS was reorganized, responsible to the Student Activities Bureau, and run by an executive committee responsible for film selections, publicity and ticket selling. The president was Paul Davies and Al Milgrom the program director. Films were shown on campus in the Bell Museum Auditorium.

Financial difficulties prompted the UFS to merge with the University Student Telecommunications Service in 1977 giving the it opportunities to expand services to students and innovative programming to the University. It also meant tax exempt status for the University Film Society and potentially allowed it to also expand its services by providing workshops and seminars and inviting film makers and directors to the University.

In 1978 obscenity charges were brought against the film society by Minnesota state legislator Kenneth McDonald for showing the controversial film Salo, an updated version of120 days of Sodomby the Marquis de Sade. The University upheld showing the film but as a result, a state audit was requested by legislators that included a review of the film society's financial records. After facing possible extinction as a result of the audit, in 1980 the Student Organization Development Center sent a list of recommendations with which the UFS had to comply in order to maintain its student organization status. The UFS also became a non-profit organization and continued to receive grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board as well as the Minneapolis Arts Committee

In 1987, in addition to the auditorium at the Bell Museum, the society began showing films in the Nicholson Hall Auditorium only to lose its venue in Nicholson Hall in 1997due to concerns about building safety. In 2002 the University Film Society closed. Minnesota Film Arts was established, with Al Milgrom as the managing director. The Oak Street Cinema was purchased by Minnesota Film Arts and continued to show films as well as sponsor the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.


2.6 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


This collection contains the records of the University Film Society at the University of Minnesota

Source of acquisition

The source of acquisition for the University Film Society records is unknown

Related Material

University Film Society collection, Performing Arts Archives, Manuscripts Division, University of Minnesota Libraries

Processing Information

Collection has not been processed.

University Film Society records, 1947-1952
University Archives Staff
enter current month and year or original month and year of finding aid creation
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area