What does the Database and Media Collection contain?

The Database and Media Collection "Lehrfilmpraktiken" assembles results of our research on educational film practices in Austria between 1918 and 1970. As of publication, it is the most comprehensive resource to date on the history of educational film in Austria, but does not claim to be encyclopedically complete for reasons of both . (We did not examine many important uses of films in educational contexts in Austria as part of the project, for example, the use of films by the Allies for democratic reeducation in connection with the denazification of Austria beginning in 1945.) The Database and Media Collection contains entries on people, organizations, locations, events, films, texts, and image objects that we researched. The main language of the website is German. However, the field names and many of the controlled vocabularies are also available in English. Entries are annotated with varying density of information:

1) Key foci: Information on 50 individuals and 27 organizations was researched and compiled by the project team in the form of brief historical overviews. For 38 of the recorded films, digital copies (mostly complete, sometimes as excerpts) are freely accessible and attached to the entry. When searching or browsing, these main entries are easily accessible by means of filters: for persons via the filter "Biography", for organizations via "Historical Overview", for films via the filter "Has Video or Image". These researched cases represent small samples within the total amount of entries in each category, chosen to exemplify the spectrum of objects and entities involved in educational film practice in Austria. In the case of the films, rights considerations were taken into account as well as the usual limitations of research time.

In addition to the selected videos, the media collection contains digital copies of 20 image objects and over 380 texts. Among them are accompanying booklets to viewed films as well as newspaper and magazine articles on educational film topics that have been selected as particularly relevant or informative. For the first time, all 60 issues of the journal
"Das Bild im Dienste der Schule und Volksbildung", which was the central publication organ of the Austrian educational film movement between 1924 and 1930, have been made available online. Often the entries on media objects are also accompanied by explanatory Notes (formulated by the project team) or Descriptions (quotations from source texts) of the object.

Many of the entries enriched with researched information or digital copies are also part of the 19 Case Studies on our site. These gather entries along different thematic foci and question directions. One of these case studies – 
"Zeigeorte – Schulkinos" – reconstructs on a map the network of 149 specially licensed school cinemas in Austria in the 1920s and 1930s, drawing on the concession documents of the Vienna City and Provincial Archives. We hope to stimulate further research with this information, plan to gradually expand the entries through ongoing research, and also welcome additional information from you!

2) Documentation of film research: In addition to these main areas, the Database and Media Collection also documents our film viewings and research during the project. Over 850 films that were screened for research are recorded with metadata (including information on how to find them in a film archive), credits, and keywording (such as the relevant fields of knowledge and formal processes of the film) to facilitate future searches by other researchers and interested parties. A majority of the documented individuals and organizations are associated with these films.

Does the film database include all educational films produced or shown in Austria and – in the years of the National Socialist annexation 1938-1945 –  the Ostmark? No! The films entered represent a broad selection from the types of films and areas of knowledge that made up educational film in Austria during the period, but not a complete collection. For more complete overall views, other sources are useful, such as the two film catalogs of SHB, the educational film unit of the Austrian Ministry of Education after 1945, which we make available in full (the catalogs are from 1963 and 1971). In addition, our selection also includes films that are not educational films in the strict sense, but were illuminating for our viewings and reflections on the relationship between film and pedagogy – for example, also a Soviet Russian feature film about youth education, which was the subject of educational policy events in Austria ("Der Weg ins Leben"), or a 2019 news report about the video use of an athlete ("Trainingsalltag eines Diskuswerfers – Lukas Weißhaidinger").

The Database and Media Collection metadata schema draws, with minor additions, on the metadata schema developed as part of the Horizon 2020 Innovation Action Visual History of the Holocaust: Rethinking Curation in the Digital Age. (See their documentation.) We want to emphasize two features of the schema that we see as contributions to transparent communication of our research processes: First, there are extensive source citations for individual field entries to maintain traceability of information – whether the source of a statement is from secondary literature, archival records, or even internal working documents or names of viewed video files. In the entries on films, the data on filmic works (AVCreations) are distinguished from the various manifestations of the work (AVManifestations). For example, a 16mm film print and its digitized mp4 file count as different manifestations of the same work, as do different reels of editing material created for the making of a film. On this website, we have systematically recorded only the manifestation that was available to us for research – often a digitized
video copy. 

(Joachim Schätz)

The researched literature is also busy with the creation of databases: this is the draft for a film index sheet from 1929 (Das Bild, no. 5/1929, 98-99).