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Guide to the John Canemaker Animation Collection MSS.040

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
3rd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2596

Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Robert A. Landau (1992). Updated: Daniel Sokolow (1997), Michael Zimmer (2003-2004), YZ Chin (2008), and Timothy M. Woitas (2013).

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 14, 2019
Description is in English.

 Edited by Weatherly Stephan to reflect incorporation of processed books  , March 2017

Scope and Content Note

Canemaker began collecting this material in the early 1970's establishing a rich resource devoted to the history, technique, and cultural significance of film animation. The collection has been enlarged with subsequent donations from Canemaker of additional material of historical and contemporary interest. The collection serves the needs both of Canemaker's students at the University's Tisch School ofthe Arts and of all researchers in the history and technique of film animation.

The John Canemaker Animation Collection housed in the Fales Library consists of documentary and graphic materials and is asource of information on personalities and subjects, both American and foreign, important to the history of film animation.

While the collection includes copies of original material dating from the beginnings of film animation at the end of the nineteenth century, the original material concentrates on the late 1970's and the 1980's. Significant portions of the collection relate to Walt Disney and hisstudio, and to Canemaker's own extensive creative and research activity, and publications.


NOTE: The container list has some anomalies that warrant explanation. Items in the original collection have been listed in alphabetical order by subject in precedence over physical location of an item. In other words, box 21, folder 171 may be referred to a number of times because it contains information on a few different persons or films. Functionally, the container list was made into an index/container list in the interest of assisting researchers in finding pertinent material on a particular topic. Initially, new material and indexed material were then inserted into the alphabetical sequence of the series and subseries but maintained in a separate box. The end result is that one will come upon a folder that is not in the same box as the previous item listed in the folder sequence of the series. There are also numerous "see" references within each series' alphabetical sequence.

Beginning with new material received after 2000, Accretions were maintained (See Accretions for 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008). Here, new material was processed according to the original series-subseries structure, but kept separate from the original collection - no interfiling was done.

SERIES I: Documentary material

Series I consists of documentary material placed either in Subseries A, when it deals with more than one personality or with a general topic in animation, or in Subseries B, when the material is primarily about or by one personality. This is an adaptation of the "auteur" theory in film criticism, which credits the director as the most important creative force behind a film. In film animation, the "auteur" is usually the working animator, but producers, directors, studio owners (e.g., Walt Disney and Walter Lantz) and character voices (e.g., Mel Blanc and June Foray) are also accorded individual attention in this subseries.

  • Documentary material includes:
  • 1.Manuscript and published versions of interviews with leading personalities in film animation.
  • 2. Texts of animation courses.
  • 3. Canemaker's research notes on people and films.
  • 4. Correspondence.
  • 5. Film production/work drafts, budgets, scripts, proposals, action outlines, and other production information.
  • 6. Copies or originals of newspaper and periodical articles.
  • 7. Flyers, brochures, catalogs, public relations and press releases relating to films, screenings, animation companies and festivals.
  • 8. Resumes and biographies.

The material in each folder is arranged chronologically in the following order: correspondence; other related material; newspaper and periodical articles.

Subseries A: Subjects.

The largest amount of material in this subseries consists of programs from animation film festivals and screenings (1967-1987), representing the work of hundreds of animators from around the world. The programs, often richly illustrated, are a useful source for compiling filmographies and for biographical data. Information about foreign film festivals in the International files provides an overview of a particular country's animated film production.

Many illustrated catalogs, issued between 1977 and 1988 by Gallery Lainzberg, Museum Graphics, Sotheby, and others, are included under "Art and Collecting" and provide information about animators and films. Primarily, however, this material is interesting for showing the development of animation art as a "collectible." Catalogs in Subseries A include works of more than one animator; catalogs devoted to one animator are filed under the name in Subseries B.

The Walter Lantz Conference on Animation, sponsored by the American Film Institute in 1987 and 1988, published a volume titled, each year, The Art of the Animated Image, with the subtitle "an Anthology" in 1987 and "Storytelling in Animation" in 1988. John Canemaker edited the 1988 edition. Besides containing transcripts of panel discussions, there are contributions by historians and practitioners of animation.

Material about animation in the United Kingdom, is the largest in the International category and contains items collected during Canemaker's 1979 trip to England.

The Theory and Technique folder contains the text of a 1936 layout training course by Tom Codrick and Charles Philippi; material on an animation seminar at the New School in 1979; and articles relating to technical aspects of animation and the new field of computer animation.

The UCLA Oral History of the Motion Picture in America interviews (1969) have been sorted among the interviewees' folders: Tex Avery, Dave Fleischer, Fritz Freleng, and Richard Huemer. The Huemer folder also contains correspondence Canemaker had with UCLA regarding restrictions on the use of Huemer's interview.

Art Babbitt, a Disney animator, gave a series of lectures in London in July, 1973. There are two copies of these lectures, one on acid-free paper, and five interviews (1971-1979) by Canemaker with this important artist.

John Canemaker's own career as an historian and practitioner of animation spans the years from 1973, when he first visited the Disney Studios, to the animation he created for the 1988 Academy Award winning documentary, YOU DON'T HAVE TO DIE. The general folders also include documentation on Canemaker's military, acting, and university careers (1965-1974). While his journalistic work generally is filed under the subjects and people treated, material from his books and films is included. Series I contains documentary material and Series II, the artwork for the films. In addition to the technical aspects of filmmaking, the materials collected give insight into the problems of financing and the teamwork required to produce a film. The complete screenplay of THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP is in this series. Reviews and articles about the films evaluate the results of the enormous effort involved. Donald Crafton's 321-page, 1977 Yale University dissertation on Emile Cohl, a French pioneer of animation, and articles dating from 1937 to 1973 are included.

The Walt Disney material relates to the productions of his studio regardless of animator. Additional Disney material will be found in folders devoted to animators whose careers include work at the studio (e.g., Babbitt, Johnston, Kinney, Klein, Thoams, Tytla). Items in the General folders include articles about Disney and his studio (1932-1985), a 1935 list of books in the Disney Studio Library, and some unsigned letters from Walt Disney to Ub Werks (1928).

Among the richest documentary items about individual films are the analyses of ALICE IN WONDERLAND; inter-office memos about DON QUIXOTE; production/work drafts for DUMBO, FANTASIA, and THE JUNGLE BOOK. Comments by author P.L. Traverson the film script for MARY POPPINS are included. Information on other Disney productions includes release sheets for 21 features, giving credits for films in the period 1940-1985, and a 47 page listing of shorts (titles, dates, plots) from the period 1928-1943.

Oskar Fischinger and his wife Elfriede, early refugees from Nazi Germany, are represented in the collection through letters and items sent to Canemaker by Elfriede Fischinger. Although later acclaimed for his paintings, Fischinger did early work in animation. Included in these folders are copies of letters between  Leopold Stokowskiand Fischinger about FANTASIA.

Subseries B: People.

A sampling of the artists is a veritable Who's Who of animation from FELIX THE CAT to ROGER RABBIT: Max and Dave Fleischer, Otto Messmer,  Bill Tytla, Richard Williams are a few of the creative talents represented in correspondence, interviews, and other documents in Series I: B.

SERIES II: Graphic material

Series II, which consists of the extensive graphic material Canemaker has collected over the years, has been divided into three subseries according to form in order to facilitate archival storage: artwork, posters, and flip books. Within the subseries, when applicable, materials have been alphabetically arranged by name of animator or creator. Posters have been given a descriptive title and arranged alphabetically in the special collections map case. Other oversize graphic material is also stored in the map case.

  • Graphic material includes:
  • 1. Storyboards, layouts, cels, frame-by-frame analyses and other artwork used in producing animated films.
  • 2. Sketchbooks.
  • 3. Non-animation drawings such as caricatures.
  • 4. Illustrations used in books about animation.

Subseries A: Artwork.(in Oversize boxes)

Canemaker's collected artwork for the JOHN LENNON SKETCHBOOK, which was commissioned by Yoko Ono, includes copies of 25 drawings made by Lennon. Miscellaneous artwork by Canemaker contains self-portraits, sketchbooks of random work, and early sketches for his films. Storyboards for THE WIZARD'S SON and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP are stored in the map case.

Artwork by other animators includes thirty 20"x40" photostats (map case) of Disney backgrounds, action drawings, story sketches, etc.; illustrations used in TOO FUNNY FOR WORDS, by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston; and 6 cels, approximately 70 blue pencil drawings, and eight story sketches for Richard Williams' RAGGEDY ANN and ANDY.

Subseries B: Posters.(in Oversize boxes)

This series includes posters for conferences and festivals which depict favorite cartoon characters.

Subseries C: Flip Books.

The 53 flip books in this series range from early French works to avant garde creations as well as instructions on making flip books.

SERIES III:Book Collection

The book collection is housed in the Fales Library. The books have been catalogued in Bobcat. A keyword or related name search with the name Canemaker will retrieve the records for the books.

SERIES IV: Periodical Collection.

These items are housed in the Fales Library. A list of the periodicals is available in the Reading Room.

SERIES V: Audio and Video Tape Collection.

Both the audio and video materials were originally housed in the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media. In 2003, the audiotapes were transferred to the Fales Library and Special Collections, as part of the John Canemaker Animation Collection. The videotapes remain in the Avery Fisher Center collection.

SERIES VI: Major Projects(added with 2003 Accretion)

Series VI consists of research materials for major projects by Canemaker. Research notes, interview transcripts, correspondence and other related items used for specific projects by Canemaker are processed together to aid archival retrieval.

Subseries A: "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair"

This subseries includes research notes, interviews and other material related to Canemaker's book "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair."

Subseries B: Vladimir (William) Tytla, "Animation's Michelangelo"

This subseries includes research notes, interviews and other material related to Canemaker's major article on Vladimir Tytla titled "Animation's Michelangelo."

Subseries C: "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation"

This subseries includes research notes, interviews and other material related to Canemaker's book "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation."

Subseries D: Chuck Jones

This subseries includes research notes, interviews, and other material related to Canemaker's short film "Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood."

Subseries E: John and Faith Hubley

This subseries includes research notes, correspondence, and other material related to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences program "A Salute to John & Faith Hubley."

Subseries F: "The Moon and the Son"

This subseries includes research notes, correspondence, and other material related to Canemaker's Academy Award-winning short film "The Moon and the Son."

Subseries G: "Two Guys Named Joe"

This subseries includes research notes, correspondence, and other material related to Canemaker's book "Two Guys Named Joe."

SERIES VII: Objects(added with 2008 Accretion)

Series VII consists of promotional objects associated with commercial films acquired by Canemaker.


Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject/author heading.

The files are grouped into seven series.

Accretions are listed at the end of the container list and mirror the original organizational structure of the collection.

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Documentary Material
  2. Series II: Graphic Material
  3. Series III: Book Collection
  4. Series IV: Periodical Collection
  5. Series V: Audio & Video Tape Collection
  6. Oversize - Series I: Documentary Material
  7. Oversize - Series II: Graphic Material
  8. Accretions 2000 - Series I: Documentary Material
  9. Accretions 2000 - Oversize - Series I: Documentary Material
  10. Accretions 2001 - Series I: Documentary Material
  11. Accretions 2001 - Oversize - Series I: Documentary Material
  12. Accretions 2001 - Oversize - Series II: Graphic Material
  13. Accretions 2003 - Series I: Documentary Material
  14. Accretions 2003 - Series II: Graphic Material
  15. Accretions 2003 - Series VI: Major Projects
  16. Accretions 2003 - Oversize - Series II: Graphic Material
  17. Accretions 2008 - Series I: Documentary Material
  18. Accretions 2008 - Series II: Graphic Material
  19. Accretions 2008 - Series III: Book Collection
  20. Accretions 2008 - Series IV: Periodical Collection
  21. Accretions 2008 - Series V: Audio & Video Tape Collection
  22. Accretions 2008 - Series VI: Major Projects
  23. Accretions 2008 - Series VII: Objects
  24. Accretions 2008 - Oversize - Series I: Documentary Material
  25. Accretions 2012 - Series I: Documentary Material
  26. Accretions 2012 - Series IV: Periodical Collection
  27. Accretions 2012 - Series V: Audio & Video Tape Collection
  28. Accretions 2012 - Series VI: Major Projects
  29. Accretions 2012 - Oversize - Series I - Documentary Material
  30. Accretions 2012 - Oversize - Series VI - Major Projects