Folder MSS 049 - William Gitt Film Poster Collection

Identity elements

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Name and location of repository

Level of description



William Gitt Film Poster Collection


  • 1935-1965 (Creation)


1 box

Name of creator


Biographical history

William C. Gitt was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania on April 26, 1932 to parents Helen Carleton Gitt and Harry Newman Gitt II. William attended Dartmouth College where he studied engineering. While there, he spent time building equipment for Dartmouth’s radio station. It was during his time at Dartmouth that his love of film blossomed as he attended screenings of new and classic movies shown by the Dartmouth Film Society. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1953, he joined the U.S. Army. Between 1953 and 1955, Gitt spent his time with the Signal Corps stationed at Fort Monmouth, NJ. Afterward, William started working for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). While working for the RCA, he installed microwave equipment for the U.S. Defense Department. He also helped build the first silicone-based computer during his time at the RCA. While he worked at the RCA, he began to amass his collection of film memorabilia with 16mm prints of movie stills.
After his time in New Jersey with the Army and the RCA, William moved to Boston. After moving to Massachusetts, he worked projection in the Orson Welles Cinema as well as the Coolidge Corner Theatre. From there, he joined the staff at the Berklee College of Music. William was in charge of overseeing the installation of the college’s entire studio equipment and wiring. Thanks to his vast knowledge of engineering, he taught Berklee’s maintenance course where students learned how to oversee and care for sound equipment and studios. William served as the college’s chief engineer until his retirement in 2009 at the age of 78. On June 8, 2018, William passed away, leaving behind a legacy of important work in sound engineering and a love of film.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The William Gitt Film Poster Collection contains different movie posters and advertising material from the 1930s through the 1960s. The collection primarily consists of 27" by 41" “One-Sheet” posters and 11" by 14" Lobby Cards. The collection also contains photographic prints from the National Screen Service Corporation, which distributed stills from movies to theaters in order to promote the film, as well as other kinds of film ephemera. The films advertised span many genres, including noir, slapstick comedy, and westerns among others. Notable films include Marlene Dietrich’s Destry Rides Again, Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur, and Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. Some materials date to movies’ original releases, while others are for rereleases, including a 1959 rerelease of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. The collection also features posters for well-known actors’ first films. This includes Marlon Brando’s first feature-length film, The Men, and Terrence Stamp’s first film, Billy Budd.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged by genre, then by film and type: Series 1 contains 7 subseries; Series 2 contains 15 subseries; Series 3 contains 8 subseries; and Series 4 contains 3 subseries. Films are listed chronologically. Physical arrangement does not necessarily reflect series arrangement.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

The collection is open to researchers. No materials may be checked out or borrowed from the Emerson College Archives & Special Collections.

Physical access

Fair to Good, the larger posters are folded.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Some materials may be subject to copyright. No part of the materials protected by copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the copyright holder. Researchers are required to seek permission from the copyright holder to reproduce and/or publish materials under copyright. These are non-circulating materials.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Custodial history

The materials were collected by William C. Gitt, and were bequeathed to his brother, Robert Gitt, upon his death. Robert and Robert's partner, Anthony Slide, donated the materials to Emerson College in June of 2018.


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