Documentary Films for Research

Documentary films can be a great resource for academic work, and Duke is a great place to find documentaries. The Center for Documentary Studies offers undergraduate classes, workshops, and public programs and events; Lilly Library has an excellent film collection including many documentaries; and Durham is home to the world-famous Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. has a useful directory of documentaries by broad categories like Biography and Nature and Wildlife, and includes a search box. You can also search for documentaries, and often find free streaming video of the trailer or even the entire film, at YouTube or Google Video.

This is a trailer for Born Into Brothels, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. Duke has this film at Lilly Library; it’s DVD 5317.

You can search the library’s online catalog for films relevant to your research using the search tips provided by Lilly. While most films are in the Lilly collection, we have government videos, medical training videos, and other valuable items in libraries across campus. Lilly has stations where you can watch video cassettes, and most DVDs can be checked out.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

2 thoughts on “Documentary Films for Research”

  1. Great post! I would also like to mention the new Full Frame Archive at Duke University. The Full Frame Archive is part of the Archive of Documentary Arts in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. You can read more about the Archive here. We will be posting a list of recent acquisitions and DVD use copies available for viewing in the next week. So check back soon!

  2. Hi Kirston! Well, I was at Duke last semester as exchange student and did not find anything like that yet.

    So good it is there now, d-films can be a great source of information.

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