The Origins of Governmental Film Censorship, 1907–1923

Laura Wittern-Keller

in Freedom of the Screen

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780813124513
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813134901 | DOI:
The Origins of Governmental Film Censorship, 1907–1923

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This chapter discusses the origin of governmental film censorship. Before movies were created, reformers constantly worried about the indecent content popular novels and photographs carried. It was in 1865 that Congress enacted the first antismut law, which authorized the U.S. postmaster to intercept obscene photographs. When movies arrived, however, moralists began to worry about the movie content that they viewed to be “social sewage.” The chapter looks at how movie censorship began, starting from the pressures groups imposed on the government, until the adoption of movie censorship in seven states.

Keywords: origin; film censorship; antismut law; movie; social sewage; movie censorship; seven states; Congress

Chapter.  8908 words. 

Subjects: Film

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