Public Release: 

Moving pictures: Optical entertainments and the advent of cinema

Adam Matthew launches fourth part of the Victorian Popular Culture Portal


Primary sources publisher, Adam Matthew, has announced the release of the fourth section of its highly renowned Victorian Popular Culture Portal. "Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments and the Advent of Cinema" explores the cultural history of optical entertainments from the late 18th century to the early 20th century, bringing to life the rich cultural and scientific history from which cinema was born.

From shadow puppets to dioramas, and from zoetropes to Hollywood, the long and varied evolution of visual entertainments is represented through objects, ephemera and printed works. This new digital collection also features remarkable video clips of original footage from the renowned BFI National Archive as well as 360-degree object views, image gallery, and an exhibition that features demonstrations of optical delights.

Subjects covered include:

  • Optical Illusions, including kaleidoscopes, metamorphic images and anamorphosis.
  • Panoramas and Dioramas, with programs, souvenirs, toy panoramas and protean views.
  • Magic Lantern Shows and Lectures, including projectors, slides, handbills and posters for performances, and lecture notes.
  • Moving Picture toys and techniques, such as the phenakistoscope, the zoetrope, flick books, and the work of early pioneers such as Eadweard Muybridge.
  • Peep Shows and Stereoscopes, including material on street entertainers and Raree Shows, peep eggs, parlour entertainments, and telescopic views.
  • Early Cinema, covering pioneers such as Edison and the Lumieré Brothers; early presentations in fairgrounds and music halls; the establishment of picturehouses and the emergence of film industries in Hollywood, Britain and Europe; the early stars of the 'silver screen', and the studios that made them.

All printed material is full-text searchable and visual or manuscript material has been keyword indexed.

Other Victorian Popular Culture sections:

  • Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic
  • Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks
  • Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment


Further information and access to a free trial can be found here. For all pricing details please contact Adam Matthew.

Adam Matthew is an award winning publisher of digital primary source collections for the humanities and social sciences. Sourced from leading libraries and archives around the world, their unique research and teaching collections cover a wide range of subject areas from medieval family life to 20th century history, literature and culture.

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