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Richard E. Norman Collection

A Guide to his Holdings at the Black Film Center/Archive

Finding aid prepared by Mary Huelsbeck/Stacey Doyle

Summary Information

Black Film Center/Archive
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library, Room 044
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: 812-855-6041
Fax: 812-856-5832

Richard E. Norman

Richard E. Norman Collection

Collection No.
Special Collection REN

28 boxes, posters

Materials are in English

Consists of distribution records, correspondence, film publicity, posters, photographs, censorship materials, and fiscal statements.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Richard Edward Norman (1891-1960) began his film production career around 1912. In 1916 he made The Green-Eyed Monster, an all-white drama which he later remade with an all black cast and additional scenes (now called Green-Eyed Monster, dropping the article). This was the beginning of his interest in black or race films, a new market that was being forged by producers like Oscar Micheaux and the Lincoln Motion Picture Company. Over time, Norman made many other films using black casts, including The Bull-Dogger (1921), The Crimson Skull (1921), Regeneration (1923), The Flying Ace (1926), and Black Gold (1928). The Flying Ace was a particular success, grossing close to $20,000 through Norman’s distribution efforts.

Norman never crossed over from silent films to talkies, which he thought was a major part of his economic success. Norman's films were always able to generate a profit, even in lean economic times. His policy was not to pay his stars more than $75 a week and he usually completed production in less than one month's time. He distributed his films himself, concentrating his efforts mainly in the south, and then selling the rights to other film exhibitors to distribute to various other regions. His films played from Texas to New York.

Norman kept in contact with both black and white producers, often buying the rights to their pictures and showing them along with his own. He showed Oscar Micheaux films as well as Hollywood serials, and lesser features. In the forties he began distributing Joe Louis fights and films that featured performers such as Lena Horne.

Norman died in 1960. The accounts of his studio continue to attract scholars and lay people. His son, Richard Norman, Jr., graciously donated the Norman studio records and materials to the Black Film Center/Archive for use in further research of this phenomenal enterprise.

Scope and Content Note

The Richard E. Norman collection contains materials related to films Norman produced, as well as films he distributed. It is separated into four series: Distribution Records, Correspondence, Publicity, and Miscellaneous. Distribution Records and Correspondence do not contain folder lists, but rather series descriptions. Publicity is subdivided into 13 subseries, with the films Norman distributed separated from the films he produced. Miscellaneous is subdivided into 9 subseries.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
The collection was deposited in September 1984.
Usage Restrictions
Photocopying permitted only with permission of the Archivist.
Preferred Citation
[item], Richard E. Norman Collection, Special Collection REN, Black Film Center/Archive, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processing Information
Processed by BFC/A staff.
Separated Material
Part of this collection (4 boxes) is housed in the Lilly Library. These boxes are not included in this finding aid. Please see the Lilly finding aid for information on these boxes.
  • Indexing Terms

  • The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection. Materials about related topics, persons or places can be found by searching the catalog using these terms.

    • Topics
    • African American actors
    • Film Posters
    • Motion pictures--Distibution
    • Motion pictures--Production and Direction
    • Motion pictures--United States
    • Race films--United States
    • Silent films--United States
Collection Inventory

Series: Distribution Records (Box 1-8)

Arranged alphabetically by state, city, then theater. Includes contracts for film screenings, box office receipts, Western Union and other telegram communicaes, railway receipts, travel expenses, and correspondence regarding films Norman produced and distributed (Boxes 1-7). Also includes records from Norman's management of Famous Theater, Winter Park, Florida as well as distribution records for non-Norman productions to churches and schools (Box 8).

Series: Correspondence (Box 9)

Arranged chronologically. Primarily concerns film making and distribution information. Also includes some more general letters between Norman, actors, theater operators, and distributors.

Series: Publicity

Subseries: Heralds

Box 10 Green-Eyed Monster, 1919

Sleepy Sam, The Sleuth, 1915

Subseries: Heralds, Norman Distribution

Box 11 Champion, The, circa 1937

Goin' to Town, 1935

Henry Armstrong, circa 1938

Box 10 Her Unborn Child, 1930

Nobody's Children, 1920

Box 11 Roar of the Crowd, 1953

Box 12 Roar of the Crowd, 1953

Subseries: Lobby Cards

Box 13 Black Gold, 1927

Crimson Skull, 1921

Box 14 Flying Ace, 1926

Green-Eyed Monster, 1919

Boxes 15-16 Regeneration, 1924

Subseries: Box 26 Lobby Cards: Norman Distribution

Her Unborn Child, 1930

Subseries: Box 17 Title Cards

Crimson Skull, 1921

Flying Ace, 1926

Green-Eyed Monster, 1919

Regeneration, 1924

Subseries: Title Cards, Norman Distribution Box 12

Bronze Venus, 1944

Exile, The 1931

Explorers of the World; Joe Louis; Cotton Club Snappers 4 , circa 1931

Frontiers of '49, 1939

Girl from Chicago, 1932 

Her Unborn Child, 1930

Joe Louis vs. Carnera; Battling Buckaroo , 1935

Monster Walks, The, 1932

Radio Riots, The, undated

Roar of the Crowd, The, 1953

Virginia Judge, The, 1935 

Subseries: Posters

Black Gold, 1927

Bull-Dogger, The, 1921

Crimson Skull, 1921

Flying Ace, 1926

Green-Eyed Monster, 1919

Regeneration, 1924

Sleepy Sam, The Sleuth, 1915

Subseries: Box 18 Press Sheets

Norman Pictures; Book the 4, undated

Black Gold, 1927

Bull-Dogger, The, 1921

Crimson Skull, 1921

Flying Ace, 1926

Regeneration, 1924

Zircon, undated

Subseries: Box 18 Press Sheets: Norman Distribution

Bronze Venus, The , 1944

Debtor to the Law, 1919

Subseries: Box 19 Photographs

Black Gold, 1927

Green-Eyed Monster, 1919

Love Bug, 1919

Regeneration, 1924

Subseries: Box 19 Photographs: Norman Distribution

Pair O'Dice, undated

Subseries: Box 10 Handbills

Flying Ace, 1926 

Regeneration, 1924 

Subseries: Box 10 Miscellaneous

Film Calendars for Famous Theater, Winter Park, Florida, October 1950  and January 1957

"Have You Talent?" Norman Pictures Brochures, circa 1916

Series: Miscellaneous

Subseries: Box 20 Printed Materials, etc. (files 1-10, 21)

Includes blank exhibition contracts, Norman distribution file folder, signed film contracts, film distribution information, theater information, and printed Norman Benefit Show tickets (1-10). Also contains printed Norman tickets and printed Famous Theater tickets (Box 21).

Subseries: Passi Kola (files 11-20)

Includes Norman's handwritten advertisement drafts, ad slogans, correspondence, Passi Kola labels, notes, advertisement printing instructions, Passi Kola recipe, trademark information, and related items.

Subseries: Film Equipment and Props (files 21-27)

Subseries: Stationary (files 28-29)

Subseries: Censorship Materials (files 30-32)

Subseries: Fiscal Information (files 33-35)

Subseries: Box 21 Tickets

Subseries: Box 22 Film equipment-Miscellaneous

Subseries: Box 23 Film equipment-lithographs

Subseries: Box 24 Glass Negatives

Subseries: Box 25 Photographs

Subseries: Box 26 Lobby Cards and Press Sheets

Subseries: Box 27 Photographs

Subseries: Box 28 Miscellaneous