Charles Urban's name is mentioned in many film reference works, usually only in connection with Kinemacolor, and seldom in any depth. These are some of the main publications that each deal with aspects of his career and in many cases provided information for this website.
- Barnes, John, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894-1901: Vols. 1-5 (University of Exeter Press, 1996-98)
- Brownlow, Kevin, The War, the West and the Wilderness (Secker & Warburg, 1979)
- Chanan, Michael The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980)
- Coe, Brian The History of Movie Photography (Ash & Grant, 1981)
- Downing, Taylor, Secret Warriors: Key Scientists, Code Breakers and Propagandists of the Great War (Little, Brown, 2014)
- Gaycken, Oliver Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular Science (Oxford University Press, 2015)
- Harding, Colin and Simon Popple, In the Kingdom of Shadows: A Companion to Early Cinema (Cygnus Arts/Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996)
- Hepworth, Cecil, Came the Dawn: Memories of a Film Pioneer (Phoenix House, 1951)
- Herbert, Stephen, Theodore Brown's Magic Pictures: The Art and Inventions of a Multi-Media Pioneer (The Projection Box, 1997)
- Herbert, Stephen, and Luke McKernan (ed.), Who's Who of Victorian Cinema: A Worldwide Survey (BFI, 1996)
- Jackson, Victoria Louise, The Distribution and Exhibition of Kinemacolor in the UK and the USA, 1909-1916 (PhD thesis, University of Bristol, 2011)
- Klein, Adrian, Colour Cinematography (Chapman & Hall, 1936)
- Low, Rachael and Roger Manvell, The History of the British Film 1896-1906 (George Allen & Unwin, 1948)
- Low, Rachael, The History of the British Film 1906-1914 (George Allen & Unwin, 1949)
- Low, Rachael, The History of the British Film 1914-1918 (George Allen & Unwin, 1950)
- McKernan, McKernan, Charles Urban: Pioneering the Non-fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897-1925 (University of Exeter Press, 2013)
- Ramsaye, Terry, A Million and One Nights: A History of the Motion Picture (Simon & Schuster, 1926)
- Slide, Anthony, A Special Relationship: Britain Comes to Hollywood and Hollywood Comes to Britain (University Press of Mississippi, 2015)
- Thomas, D.B., The First Colour Motion Pictures (HMSO, 1969)
- Urban, Charles, The Cinematograph in Science, Education, and Matters of State (Charles Urban Trading Company, 1907)
- Urban, Charles (ed. Luke McKernan), A Yank in Britain: The Lost Memoirs of Charles Urban, Film Pioneer (The Projection Box, 1999)
A huge number of articles were written about Urban in his day, and a great many of these are held in the Charles Urban papers held at the National Science and Media Museum (see below). Too few have been written subsequently. These are some of the most important, of which the most useful from a biographical point of view is the obituary in The Cine-Technician, while Natalie S. McIntosh provides the most interesting interview, and Richard Brown's paper is the most notable academic study.
- Anon., 'Charles Urban', The Cine-Technician, November-December 1942
- Anon., 'Some Interesting Experiments With the Camera That Open Up Suggestive Fields Of Usefulness in Science of Photography', New York Times, 12 December 1909
- Bottomore, Stephen, '"An Amazing Quarter Mile of Moving Gold, Gems and Genealogy": filming India's 1902/03 Delhi Durbar', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol. 15 no. 4, 1995
- Brown, Richard, '"England is not big enough..." American rivalry in the early English film business: The case of Warwick v Urban, 1903', Film History, vol. 10, 1998
- Gaycken, Oliver, 'The Sources of The Secrets of Nature: The Popular Science Film at Urban, 1903-1911', in Alan Burton and Laraine Porter (eds.), Scene-Stealing: Sources for British Cinema Before 1930 (Flicks Books, 2003)
- Junior, Julis, 'Mayfair Gallery Men of the Day: Mr Charles Urban', Mayfair, 14 August 1912
- Kember, Joe, 'A Judge of Anything and Everything: Charles Urban and the Role of the Producer-Collaborator in Early British Film', in Andrew Spicer and Anthony McKenna (eds.), Beyond the Bottom Line: The Producer in Film and Television Studies (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)
- Kindem, Gorham,'The Demise of Kinemacolor: Technological, Legal, Economic, and Aesthetic Problems in Early Color Cinema History', Cinema Journal 20, no. 2, Spring 1981
- Krows, Arthur Edwin, 'Motion Pictures - Not for Theaters', The Educational Screen, 1938-1944 [series]
- Lefebvre, Thierry, 'Charles Urban et le film d'éducation - Brèves réflexions sur quelques documents des Archives Will Day', 1895, October 1997
- McIntosh, Natalie S., 'Stardust and the Rainbow's End', Brooklyn Life, 2 April 1921
- McKernan, Luke, 'The American Invasion and the British Film Industry, 1894-1903', in Alan Burton and Laraine Porter (eds.), Crossing the Pond: Anglo-American Film Relations Before 1930 (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 2002)
- McKernan, Luke, 'The Brighton School and the Quest for Natural Colour’, in Simon Popple and Vanessa Toulmin (eds.), Visual Delights – two: Exhibition and Reception (Eastleigh: John Libbey, 2005)
- McKernan, Luke, '"The Modern Elixir of Life": Kinemacolor, royalty and the Delhi Durbar', Film History, vol. 21 no. 2 (2009)
- McKernan, Luke, 'Propaganda, Patriotism and Profit: Charles Urban and British official war films in America during the First World War, Film History, vol. 14 nos. 3/4 (2002)
- McKernan, Luke, 'Putting the World Before You: The Charles Urban Story', in Andrew Higson (ed.), Young and Innocent? The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002)
- McKernan, Luke, '"That Slick Salesman in the Silk Hat": Charles Urban Arrives in Britain', in Simon Popple and Vanesa Toulmin (eds.), Visual Delights: Essays on the Popular and Projected Image in the 19th Century (Flicks Books, 2001)
- Stead, W.T., 'The Mission of the Cinematograph', Review of Reviews, 1902
- Turquety, Benoît, 'Le naturel et le mécanique: le Kinémacolor à la conquête de Paris, ou Charles Urban vs Charles Pathé, in Priska Morrissey and Céline Ruivo (eds.), Le cinéma en coloeurs: Usages et procédés avant la fin des années 1950, 1895 no. 71, Winter 2013
- Urban, Charles, 'The Romance of the Bioscope', Cassell's Magazine, February 1910
- Urban, Charles, 'Terse History of Natural Colour Kinematography', Living Pictures: The Journal of the Popular and the Projected Image Before 1914, vol. 2 no. 2 (2003) [originally written 1921]
Charles Urban issued many film catalogues and other film and equipment lists. There is no complete listing, and those that survive are in various collection, though the majority are to be found among the Charles Urban papers (see Unpublished Sources below). This is a selective listing of catalogues, with locations. Those hyperlinked are available online.
- Descriptive List of New Film Subjects issued by the Warwick Trading Company, Limited (London: Warwick Trading Company, ) [LMcK, URB]
- The Bioscope and Warwick Films Embrace a Worldwide Reputation (London: Warwick Trading Company, April 1901) [BFI, URB]
- We Put the World Before You by Means of The Bioscope and Urban Films (London: The Charles Urban Trading Company, November 1903) [BFI, MOMA, SH, URB]
- Bioscope Films (All Makes) Cheaper Than Hiring (London: Charles Urban Trading Company, ) [SH]
- Revised List of High-class Original Copyrighted Bioscope Films (London: The Charles Urban Trading Company, February 1905) [SH]
- Urban Bioscope and Accessories (London: The Charles Urban Trading Company, April 1906) [SH]
- List of New, High-class and Original Urban Film Subjects (London: The Charles Urban Trading Company, August 1906) [SH]
- Urban Bioscopes and Animated Picture Accessories (London: The Charles Urban Trading Company, August 1907) [CF, SH]
- Catalogue: Scientific and Educational Subjects. Urbanora, The World’s Educator (London: Charles Urban Trading Company, 1908) [BL]
- Catalogue: Scientific and Educational Subjects. Urbanora, The World’s Educator – Second and Enlarged Edition (London: Charles Urban Trading Company, 1909) [BL]
- General Catalogue of Classified Subjects. ‘Urban,’ ‘Eclipse,’ ‘Radios,’ Films Subjects, and ‘Urbanora’ Educational Series (London: Charles Urban Trading Company, 1909) [BL]
- Urban Catalogue of Kinematograph Machines and Motion Picture Accessories (London: Charles Urban Trading Company, 1910) [CF]
- Catalogue of Kinemacolor Film Subjects: Animated Scenes in Their Actual Colours (London: Natural Color Kinematography Co., ) [BC, BFI, LMcK]
- Urbanora 1914 Catalogue of Kinematograph Machines, Motion Picture Accessories (London: Charles Urban Trading Company, 1914) [CF]
- List no. 1: Charles Urban’s Movie Chats – Catalog of Subjects (New York: Kineto Company of America, ) [URB]
- List no. 1: Kineto Review – Catalog of Subjects (New York: Kineto Company of America, ) [URB]
- Urban Popular Classics: No. 1 – Descriptive List of Subjects Contained in Charles Urban’s ‘Movie Chats’ and ‘Kineto Review’ (New York: Kineto Company of America, ) [LMcK, URB]
- Descriptive List: Vitagraph Release – Fifty-two Features of Urban Popular Classics (New York: Vitagraph Company of America, ) [URB] Spirograph Library of Motion Picture Discs (New York: Spiro Film Corporation, 1928) [CF]
The major source of information on Urban is the Charles Urban Papers collection now held in the archives of the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, a collection which he originally donated to the Science Museum in 1937. It has been a valuable resource for film scholars ever since, and the contents break down as follows:
- URB1 Letters and other documentation mostly relating to the exhibition of Kinemacolor.
- URB2 Programmes and press clippings relating to Kinemacolor programmes worldwide.
- URB3 Press cuttings and programmes relating to Kinemacolor.
- URB4 Papers relating to Urban's propaganda work during the First World War.
- URB5 Movie Chats catalogues.
- URB6 Papers of Edward R. Turner relating to three-colour cinematography. [A later addition to the collection]
- URB7 Papers, patent specifications and court report relating to the Urban v Bioschemes court case 1913-1915.
- URB8 Papers, cuttings and photographs relating to Percy Smith.
- URB9 Papers on the history of colour cinematography.
- URB10 Film catalogues for Warwick Trading Company, Charles Urban Trading Company, Eclipse and Kineto.
- URB11 Photograph albums
- URB12 Programmes and promotional material relating to Kinemacolor and Kinekrom.
- URB13 Papers on the Spirograph.
The surviving films of Charles Urban, which number several hundred titles, are (appropriately enough) distributed among film archives worldwide. Few film archives have put their catalogues online at present, but those listed below should be able to provide further information on their holdings of Urban films, and on early cinema in general. Easily the largest single collection of Urban films is that held by the BFI National Archive in London. The American Film Institute, Los Angeles, USA The AFI acquired an Urban title in 1999, though details have now disappeared from their reorganised site.
Les Archives du Film du Centre National de la Cinématographie, Bois d'Arcy, France In the Will Day Collection, preserved by Les Archives du Film du CNC, there are a number of Charles Urban Trading Company titles, and one short Kinemacolor film, given the title A Highland Lassie.
BFI National Archive (part of the British Film Institute), London, UK The BFI National Archive holds a substantial number of films from all parts of Urban's career, including productions by the Warwick Trading Company, the Charles Urban Trading Company, Kineto, the Natural Color Kinematograph Company, Eclipse and the Kineto Company of America. Three or four of these films include shots of Urban himself, who had the habit of appearing in a number of his non-fiction productions. The Archive holds a few Kinemacolor experiments made by G.A. Smith. The Archive also holds many original Urban catalogues.
Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, Bologna, Italy Bologna has the largest single collection of surviving Kinemacolor films, twenty-three titles, comprising two fiction films (The Vandal Outlaws and Choosing the Wallpaper), one reel from With Our King and Queen Through India (The Pageant Procession) and the remainder travelogues of Italy, Egypt and Britain, including some films made by the Italian company Comerio. A DVD featuring titles from the collection, with examples of other early colour films, was released in 2017, entitled Kinemacolor and Other Magic.
Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium The Cinémathèque has been central in the preservation of the Alan Roberts collection of early cinema titles (compiled by a New Zealand collector), which includes a number of fiction and non-fiction titles made by Urban's French company Eclipse.
Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, Germany The Deutsche Kinemathek holds a number of Eclipse and Charles Urban Trading Company fiction films.
George Eastman House, Rochester, USA Rochester has recently restored the 1913 Kinemacolor Company of America fiction film The Scarlet Letter.
EYE, Amsterdam, Netherlands EYE holds a number of fiction titles made by Eclipse and the Kinemacolor film Coronation Drill at Reedham Orphanage (1911).
Imperial War Museums, London, UK The film archive of the Imperial War Museums preserves many of the British Official films of the First World War that Urban distributed in the USA. Among them are Urban's major production Britain Prepared, and the most celebrated actuality film of the war, The Battle of the Somme, which Urban edited, and which the IWM has made available on DVD.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., USA Urban films in the Library of Congress include titles in the Theodore Roosevelt Collection donated by Urban himself, and some Kineto Company of America titles. The Library also holds some Kinemacolor material, and recently took in the John E. Allen collection of films which contains an unknown number of Kinemacolor titles not previously identified as Kinemacolor, including the colour sequences from Britain Prepared and colour film of the Balkan war.
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., USA The NARA holds Official War Review, the Committee on Public Information's propaganda newsreel of 1918 which Urban edited and printed, plus other British official war films whose distribution in the USA was managed by Urban.
Russian State Documentary Film & Photo Archive, Krasnogorsk, Russia Krasnogorsk holds the film catalogued as a World War One military review which Adrian Wood of TWI identified as being a section from the Kinemacolor Delhi Durbar film while researching the television series The British Empire in Colour.
For the addresses of other film archives, see FIAF, the International Federation of Film Archives.