Guide to Documentary Films

Hundreds of high-quality documentary films have been produced about our society and its past.  The list grows every year as new documentaries air on PBS, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, and other media outlets. Until now, there has been no convenient source that identifies these valuable documentaries and provides useful commentary for scholars, educators, and students. Film & History provideson this page a detailed filmography of historical and history-related documentaries.

Before his retirement as editor-in-chief of Film & History and as director of the Center for the Study of Film and History, Peter Rollins added a substantial bibliography of documentaries written by historians, film scholars, and educators from around the world. This "guide" has become a continuing project that will expand each year, building an invaluable online library through public contributions of reviews for fellow scholars and for college students.

If you are a scholar in a field treated by a documentary film presently not included in our Guide, please consider submitting your own review. alternatively, you may submit a qualifying or dissenting review or addendum to reviews already included here. Our objective is to solicit, from F&H members as well as visitors to our website, submissions that will expand the scope and quality of the FHGDF. We welcome multiple formats, and we encourage diverse reviews of a wide range of documentary films. Comments about a film’s possible applications for classroom use are particularly welcome. In general, reviews should run 250–750 words in length, though exceptions for longer reviews may be made if warranted by quality and significance. In all cases, reviews should offer fair-minded opinions, grounded in evidence from the film and/or secondary research, and should be written plainly and succinctly for an informed public audience.

Send submissions to the film-reveiws editor (, who will share them with other members of the FHGDF team to consider including in the updates of the website. In your submission, please make sure to identify the film’s full title, release year, and distributor (or media outlet that aired it). All reviews included in the Guide will be identified by author. The editorial team reserves the right to decline reviews that may be incompatible with the academic tone or purpose of the Guide. (Accepted reviews become the property of the Center, with full publication rights.)

For academic fields that follow the APA manual, we suggest the format below for citing accepted contributions to the FHGDF (otherwise, MLA formatting is appropriate):

Last-name, F. I. (n.d.). Title of the film/program: Subtitle/episode name. [Review of motion picture]. In Loren PQ Baybrook (Ed.), Film & History Guide to Documentary Films.  [Available online] http://www./


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