skip to content

"History and Film"

In 2003, a team of historians (Modern History and American History) at the University of Cologne established the study group “History and Film” (AGuF) in order to interrogate film as a primary source and to explore theories and methodologies of film for historical writing. Today, the AGuF still has its place at the Institute for North American History.

Taking moving images seriously, the AGuF asks questions concerning the value of film in current history writing. The group debates the possibilities of using fictional film, documentaries, TV-productions or private recordings as primary sources for researching political, social, and cultural history.

Furthermore, the AGuF examines how films can become an operative medium for representing history. Utilizing approaches from Visual History to Film Studies, its goal is to explore a variety of historical questions and issues. Currently, the focus of our collection lies on US-American and European productions. 

Classes and workshops taking place offer students the possibility to work with and experience historiographical approaches to films in a scholarly context. Moreover, the AGuF staff assists students in developing a research project (oral exams or papers etc.) by giving information on the available material and suggesting relevant literature.

Students, as well as faculty, are invited to visit the AGuF’s archive located in room 0.011 where they can find a collection of literature and a continually growing collection of films. For further information or assistance please feel free to contact our student assistant. 


The AGuF collection covers different eras of North American film from the Progressive Era to New Hollywood and beyond as well as early European and German film. It includes documentaries, TV-productions and educational films.

User Services and Facilities

We offer students and faculty a place to research and work with movies as a historical source for their course work and research projects. A collection of literature on the use of movies as a primary source can be copied or loaned. 

A large part of the collection of literature on film is located in the library of the Institute for North American History. Books with the remark “AGuF” are located in room 0.011 and can be borrowed during the office hours.