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COLLECTION Identifier: hfa00031

Caroline Leaf Collection


This collection contains completed prints, production materials, and promotional materials for the short films and commercials of award-winning animator Caroline Leaf. Production materials are composed of workreels; test film scratches; storyboards; photographs; slides; drawings; glass panes; and writings, while promotional materials include film guides; posters; and stills. In addition to her own work, the collection also contains films that she collected from others, films that she collaborated on and film, audio, and paper materials produced about her, such as newspaper articles; film and audio interviews; and animation workshops.


  • 1968-2013
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1998

Language of Materials

Materials are in English and French.

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions on physical access to this paper portion of this collection. Collection is open for research. Materials may be requested for use in the Houghton Library reading room. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
Film prints are made accessible by appointment only and in close consultation with HFA staff. Although films do not circulate for individual use, students, filmmakers, artists, and researchers are encouraged to use the collections on-site. If their condition allows, prints from the HFA collection may be viewed on a flatbed viewer at the HFA’s Conservation Center.

Use Restrictions

Reproduction and/or publication of materials subject to copyright requires written permission from a) the copyright owner, his/her heirs or assigns and from b) the Fine Arts Library, owner of the original material.


1 collection (46 reels of 16mm film material, 5 reels and 3 sheets of 35mm film material, 17 sheets of 70mm film materials, 19 videotapes, 3 audio tapes, 1 DVD, 3 glass panes, and .85 cubic ft. of paper material)
The Caroline Leaf Collection consists of prints and production materials for many of her animated and live-action shorts produced between 1968 and 1998. Production materials sometimes include storyboards, test scratch frames, drawings, photographs, glass panes, or several workreels, documenting the filmmaking process. In addition to film prints and workreels, there are many videocassette copies of Leaf's commercial work, as well prints and some production materials for films she collaborated on, contributed to, or was gifted. The collection also includes select promotional materials: film guides, posters, and stills for some of her original works. As a multi-award winner, Leaf participated in many interviews and also had some films produced about her, mainly between the 1970s through the late 1990s, some of which are represented in the collection in articles, audio interviews, and films.


Canadian-American animator and filmmaker Caroline Leaf (1946- ) is an innovative, award-winning figure in her field best known for her experimental techniques such as sand animation and scratching images directly onto film frames. She began her art education in the late 1960s at Harvard University under animation instructor Derek Lamb, who later became her colleague at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). After leaving Harvard University in 1972, she moved to Canada where she found support for her work from the NFB as a staff filmmaker and director until 1991. During this time, Leaf worked on a range of projects, including animated and live-action shorts and documentaries such as Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1981). Her inventive methods are often the graphic vehicles for powerfully emotional content, exploring themes like social interaction and perception. Leaf has also retold many folk stories, such as the Inuit fable of The Owl Who Married a Goose (1974), using her techniques to evoke fresh themes. After leaving the NFB in 1991, she worked to adapt her techniques to commercial work for a brief period of time.

Throughout her life, she also acted as an instructor and mentor for other animators. From 1996-98, she returned to Harvard University as an animation instructor, closing the circle on her animation career that had first flourished at Harvard decades earlier. She was also an animation instructor at Konstfack in Sweden and senior tutor at the National Film and Television School in England. Leaf also adapted her innovative techniques for workshop formats, regularly conducting animation workshops internationally. Aside from teaching, she has established herself as a fine arts painter.


This collection is arranged chronologically by film or material within the following series and subseries:
  1. I. Original Works
  2. ___Shorts
  3. ___Commercials
  4. ___Tests and Miscellaneous
  5. II. Contributions and Collaborations
  6. III. Films in Caroline Leaf's Personal Collection
  7. IV. Works About Caroline Leaf
  8. V. Promotional Materials

Acquisition Information

The Caroline Leaf Collection was donated to the Harvard Film Archive by Caroline Leaf.

Related Collections

Researchers should note that the Harvard Film Archive holds collections for two of Caroline Leaf's advisers who were later film colleagues.

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by: Tricia Patterson, 2013
Link to catalog
Leaf, Caroline. Caroline Leaf Collection, 1968-2013 : A Guide
Harvard Film Archive, Fine Arts Library, Harvard College Library

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Film Archive, Harvard Library, Harvard University Repository

24 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 496-6750