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Ruth Gould Dolesé

Johnson, Martin L.

One of the sharpest critiques of the cinema in the late aughts and early 1910s came from Progressive reformers, who sought to regulate both the spaces where movies were seen, particularly the “nickel” shows in poor, urban areas, and the stories and images presented in the cinema. But in addition to pushing for commercial regulation of the picture show, reformers also dreamed of an “educational cinema,” which would take the most edifying films screened in theaters and bring them to other sites, including schools. Ruth Gould Dolesé, trained as an arts educator, and one of the early members of the New York Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures (later the National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures and then the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures), was one of the key players in the creation of an educational motion picture sector in the United States. In particular, her establishment of the Educational Department at the General Film Company in 1911, and, that same year, her publication of the Catalogue of Educational Motion Pictures made her a widely celebrated figure in the educational film movement, even though her early death in 1913 cut short a promising second career.


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Academic Units
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
November 30, 2020