Last Look

Back to the past

Near the top of Sterling Library, a tiny movie theater.

Bob Handelman

Bob Handelman

View full image

Ever heard of DVDs? The VCR? How about the days when movies were black and white?

Years (or decades) ago, they were all easy to find. Now, not so much. But for those of us who’d love to watch Barbara Stanwyck again, don’t worry: Yale’s Film Archive has just about everything. The university bought its first classic 16mm films in 1968, and the growing collection was incorporated into Sterling Library in 2017.

The archive, recently relocated to the seventh floor, holds tens of thousands of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs™, and VHS tapes, along with countless movies on 16mm and 35mm. Students, faculty, and staff can watch anything from Charlie Chaplin to The Banshees of lsherin in a twenty-seat theater (shown here), or in one of ten viewing stations.

The times do change. Seven years ago, says archive director Michael Kerbel, a student asked to borrow a film. The only one in the archive was on VHS. “And the student says, ‘I remember those. My grandfather had one.’”

The comment period has expired.