History of the Field
The History of the Field collection includes personal papers and organizational records from Communication’s genesis in the 1940s to the present day, oral history interviews with prominent disciplinary figures, and key scholarly and reference works.
The George Gerbner Papers (1951 – 2006) document Gerbner’s work as a media scholar and dean of the Annenberg School for Communication.*
The collection is especially rich in material concerning the Cultural Indicators project, television violence and cultivation theory, and the Cultural Environment Movement, which was a media advocacy organization founded by Gerbner in 1991. Correspondence, research and administrative materials, reports, publications, clippings, photographs, and memorabilia are all present. View facsimiles of the Gerbner papers. A 1987 interview with Gerbner regarding the Annenberg School and the field of communication more generally can be viewed on YouTube.
*For more materials related to Gerbner’s time and activities as Annenberg’s dean, researchers should consult the Annenberg School holdings of Penn’s University Archives.
The Elihu Katz Papers (1948 – 2014) document the scholarly and professional activities of American-Israeli sociologist and media scholar Elihu Katz, who made substantial contributions in the areas of media effects, diffusion, uses and gratifications theory, reception theory, and media events. The collection covers his work at the Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research and at the two Annenberg Schools (University of Southern California and University of Pennsylvania). Materials pertaining to time spent at University of Chicago, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority are present to a lesser extent. Document types include: correspondence; drafts of talks, papers, articles, and books; research notes; conference materials; teaching materials and course documents; public opinion studies and reports; Israeli broadcasting materials; and biographical documents. View the finding aid for the Katz papers.
The International Communication Association Records (1946 – 2016) document the ICA’s growth from its 1950 establishment as the National Society for the Study of Communication to the largest worldwide academic organization devoted to the systematic study of communication. The collection is composed primarily of administrative records created and/or collected by various officers over the years and includes: correspondence; board meeting minutes and reports; bylaws and constitutions; conference proceedings; division records; financial records; membership records; and publication records. View the ICA records finding aid.
The Communication Scholars Oral History Project consists of in-depth, multi-session interviews with key figures in the field, covering both their biographical and intellectual histories. Each interview is available as either a video or sound recording synced to an official (downloadable) transcript.
Journals, Encyclopedias, and Bibliographies
Studies in Visual Communication did much to define its eponymous subfield. The journal grew out of the pioneering Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication (SAVICOMM) that was launched in 1974 under the auspices of the American Anthropological Association and edited by Sol Worth of the Annenberg School at Penn. The journal signaled a revival of scholarly work in visual media and communication, following on the earlier work of Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and others in the 1930s, and stimulated by Sol Worth and John Adair’s groundbreaking Navaho Film Project of the late 1960s.
Following Sol Worth’s death, Larry Gross and Jay Ruby became co-editors of SAVICOMM and, in 1980, with funding from the Annenberg School, the journal was re-formed as Studies in Visual Communication. The new journal took a broader, multi-disciplinary approach, recruiting an editorial board that included eminent anthropologists, art historians, communication scholars, film scholars and practitioners, psychologists, and sociologists.
The History of Communication Research Bibliography contains over 2,500 English-language works on the history of Communication, Media, and Film Studies held by libraries around the world.