Orson Welles

Arguably one of the most influential film directors of all time, Orson Welles mastered multiple media during his impressive 50-year career. He is best remembered for his innovative work in radio, theater, television, and film. 

His 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells's “The War of the Worlds” and 1941 film “Citizen Kane,” which he co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in, are among the memorable creative works of the 20th century.  

His work is still relevant today as researchers, scholars, and fans continue to study his oeuvre and pay tribute, including two 2018 documentaries that used materials from our collections: Mark Cousins’s “The Eyes of Orson Welles” and Morgan Neville’s “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.” That same year, Netflix financed the completion of his previously unfinished film, “The Other Side of the Wind,” which drew upon documents from our Welles collections to aid in the film's reconstruction.

man with a cigar in his mouth looking into a camera viewfinder
Director Orson Welles. Photo courtesy of Classic Movie Favorites.

We are home to the most extensive international collection of archives on Welles. The collections, some seven in total, include thousands of documents, letters, telegrams, scripts, production and financial statements, photographs, illustrations, and audiovisual materials, and cover all areas of his creative output. There is also a substantial amount of material of a personal nature including recently acquired letters Welles sent to his beloved guardian, Dr. Maurice “Dadda” Bernstein.

Finding aids

headshot of a man in a black hat holding a cigar

Orson Welles on the set of "F for Fake," 1973.


Philip A Hallman

Film Studies Field Librarian