Board of Review - Movie Index
- Movie Index
- Agency History
- Scope Notes
- Box Contents Inventory
- Other Resources
- Collection Review from Kansas History, Autumn 1999
This index references all movies reviewed (1910 to 1966) by the BOR that have even a single elimination or were banned outright. It provides an outstanding resource that documents a significant portion of the cultural landscape of Kansas over a half century.
The majority of the records in the collection ( sixteen cubic feet ) consist of review cards. These 3x5 index cards record listing date, number of reels, title, film company and whether accepted, rejected or rejected with eliminations. Cards for films that were rejected with eliminations contain a detailed description of the portions to be censored.
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In its earliest existence, the board was required to "Approve such film reels, including subtitles, spoken dialogue, songs, other words or sounds, folders, posters and advertising materials which are moral and proper" and to censor films that were " cruel, obscene, indecent or immoral, or such as tend to debase and corrupt morals." The board accomplished this daunting task by requiring that all films to be shown in the state first be passed by a board of three censors. This board had the power to remove any scenes that it felt met the aforementioned criteria. The board also could ban films in toto (as it did with D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation from 1915 to 1923 for " inciting racial hatred and sectional bias"). After being reviewed and edited, the film was then tagged with a unique serial number that identified the film as having been reviewed and passed.
The keystone of the collection is the complete run of review cards. These cards are arranged variously by date and genre and therein alphabetically by title. They include the title, sub-title, in some cases star, motion picture company, date and whether passed, passed with deletions, or rejected. Those passed with deletions include detailed information on precisely what was removed. These deletions include everything from removal of scenes, to the cutting of certain words from subtitles and "bleeping" of dialogue (which was sometime done by placing lacquer on offending portions of the soundtrack). Cutting was much more prevalent in the early years, therefore these cards provides a much more thorough glimpse into board attitudes than do the later cards which contain few deletions.
The records of the Kansas Board of Review are housed in the Kansas State Historical Society's Center for Historical Research and are available to researchers with no restrictions.
If you find a movie you're looking for and want more detailed information from the collection, contact our reference staff. Make certain to include the movie name and locator (box) number as applicable. Please keep in mind the following things:
- All specific eliminations on the index cards should appear in the database. To request further research by the reference staff in the collection, see our ask a research question page.
- The database should countain all information found on the index cards except possibly number, print, copy, date, and fee of subsequent reviews.
- There is a reference fee for photocopies of the original cards.
- Other sources in the collection for further information are Correspondence (1948-1966-- pre-1948 almost non-existent); Board Minutes organized by date (mostly operational--few films mentioned); Lists of Films Reviewed which may contain serial/tag numbers and/or be organized by film company; and Law Enforcement Reports that provide showing details like theater, movie, date, film tag number, etc. There is a reference fee for staff to research one of the above mentioned sources for more information on a movie.
The completion of this index was made possible by volunteers Don Manley and Dick and Susie Lindstrom.