This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Local Motion Picture Exhibition in Auburn, From 1894-1928: A Cultural History from a Communication Perspective




Williams, Danielle

Type of Degree



Communication and Journalism


This thesis is a historical analysis of Auburn’s motion picture history from 1894- 1928. Auburn’s motion picture history is unique because it does not follow traditional film histories. In 1905, Auburn residents and API students watch their first moving picture. However, motion pictures did not have a permanent venue in Auburn until 1912. Auburn’s motion picture history adds to the body of knowledge regarding motion picture exhibition because instead of a traditional movie theater, movies were watched in Langdon Hall on the API campus. In addition, student organizations sponsored the picture show. Using Robert Allen and Douglas Gomery’s model of analyzing film histories through economical, social, technological, and aesthetic aspects, this research examines newspapers and personal archives to uncover Auburn’s motion picture history. The thesis concludes that Auburn’s motion picture history makes significant contributions to motion picture history. Auburn did not experience the nickelodeon or picture palace phases of motion picture exhibition. In addition, Auburn’s motion picture history provides insight about the treatment of African Americans and the racist culture in Auburn at the time. Furthermore, although motion pictures started as a fad in this small rural town, students easily adapted motion pictures into their extracurricular activities.