Guide to the Jack C. Ellis (1922- ) Papers

Collection Title: Jack C. Ellis (1922- ) Papers
Dates: 1955-2000
Identification: 20/71
Creator: Ellis, Jack C., 1922-2009
Extent: 1 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Jack Ellis Papers fill just one box, but touch on many aspects of Ellis’s teaching career. C.V.s, annual updates, bibliographies, news clippings, and press releases document the courses he taught, his professional activities, and his publications. Of particular interest is an unfinished, draft manuscript of an autobiography.
Acquisition Information: The Jack Ellis Papers were donated to the University Archives by Jack Ellis on January 6, 1997 as Accession Number 97-4 and by the R/TV/F Department of the School of Communication on July 5, 2000 as Accession Number 00-212. Materials from the Archives’ Faculty Biographical Files were added to the Papers.
Processing Information: Janet Olson, May 2007.
Separated Materials: A few duplicate items were discarded. Several items relating generally to the Radio/TV/Film Department were separated and added to the RTVF General Files.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Related Materials: Radio/TV/Film Department Academic and Course Files, 1946-1980 (Series 20/31)Radio/TV/Film Department Administrative Records, 1939-1968 (Series 20/30)
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Professor of film studies and filmmaker Jack C. Ellis was born in Joliet, Illinois, on July 9, 1922. He did undergraduate work at Wabash College from 1940 to1943 and, after serving in the US Army from 1943 to 1946, attended the University of Chicago, receiving a Master’s Degree in 1948. For his Doctor of Education degree from Teacher’s College, Columbia University (1955), Ellis studied the use of film in college and university education; his dissertation was titled “Approaches to Film as an Art Form: A Handbook for College Teachers.” The history and production of film, especially documentaries, continued as research and teaching interests throughout his career.

When Ellis came to Northwestern University in 1956 as a lecturer, he established a Film program--including both production and history/criticism--as part of the Radio and Television Department in the School of Speech (now Communication). At the time, only a few other institutions in the US offered film programs. Ellis was appointed an assistant professor in the Radio, Television, and Film Department later in 1956, an associate professor in 1961, and full professor in 1966. He served as Chair of the department from 1980 to 1985, and was named professor emeritus in 1991.

During his career at Northwestern, Ellis held visiting professorships at the University of California-Los Angeles (1959-1960), New York University (1965-1966), and the University of Texas at Austin (1972-1973). Among a number of professional affiliations, Ellis served on the American Federation of Film Societies, the Society for Cinema Studies, the Illinois Arts Council (advisory film panel), and the American Council on Education. He was the director of NEH Summer Seminars on Film History (1979, 1980), and the editor of Cinema Journal (1976-1982). Ellis’s publications included numerous articles, and five books on aspects of film history. An autobiography remained unfinished.

In addition to teaching film history, Ellis was involved in film production at Northwestern. He and his students produced a number of documentary films, beginning with a 1962 study of a children’s theatre course. He also worked to build a film library at Northwestern, and organized film/lecture series open to the general public.

Ellis and his wife, Mary Kay Ellis, had two children, David (born 1957) and Cameron (born 1959).

Scope and Content

The Jack Ellis Papers fill just one box, but touch on many aspects of Ellis’s teaching career. C.V.s, annual updates, bibliographies, news clippings, and press releases document the courses he taught, his professional activities, and his publications. Of particular interest is an unfinished, draft manuscript of an autobiography.

One file of correspondence, dating mostly between 1989 and 1990, covers a range of topics, from inquiries by Ellis about purchasing films and books, to requests for recommendations, to notes from former students. Teaching files consist mainly of syllabi, but also include several comprehensive bibliographies, and a description of the Film Program at Northwestern (circa 1966). A bibliography of film resources in the Northwestern University Library (compiled as a course project by a student) and a description of the NEH Summer Seminar on Film History (1980) are filed in separate folders.

Articles and reprints include just a few of Ellis’s many publications. Proposals include those for a book on documentary filmmaker John Grierson and for a film history textbook, as well as a lengthy proposal to the NEH for a multi-author, multi-volume historical/critical analysis of the Robert Altman film Nashville.

Subjects

Personal Name

Ellis, Jack C., 1922-2009

Subjects

Motion pictures--Study and teaching


Container List / Contents

  • Biographical material, 1961-1991Box 1, Folder 1
  • Clippings, 1956-1968Box 1, Folder 2
  • Northwestern University Press Releases, 1956-1980Box 1, Folder 3
  • Conferences, 1957, 1980Box 1, Folder 4
  • Teacher’s College (Columbia): Dissertation Project Proposal, 1955Box 1, Folder 5
  • Correspondence, 1964, 1989-1990Box 1, Folder 6
  • Teaching materials: syllabi, bibliographies, 1960s-1980s, n.d.Box 1, Folder 7
  • NEH Summer Seminar, 1980Box 1, Folder 8
  • Student Project: Film Bibliography, NU Library, 1989Box 1, Folder 9
  • Articles and reprints, 1963-1982Box 1, Folder 10
  • Publication and production flyers (books and films), 1962-1979Box 1, Folder 11
  • Book proposals: Grierson, History of Film textbook, ca. 1964, 1967Box 1, Folder 12
  • Proposal: Nashville NEH Project, 1987Box 1, Folder 13
  • Autobiography Draft: “Half a Century of Film Study: A Pilgrim’s Progress,” chs. 1-4, ca. 2000Box 1, Folder 14
  • Autobiography Draft: “Half a Century of Film Study: A Pilgrim’s Progress,” chs. 5-11, ca. 2000Box 1, Folder 15