The Hecht Collection: Screen Archive South East (University of Brighton)

Short titleHecht Collection
Related organisations

owner: Screen Archive South East

Related people

owner: HECHT, Hermann  (1923-1985)

owner: HECHT, Ann

Date completed1998
Scope of collectionslides, lanterns and related ephemera and other items
Currently listed holdings

1,575 slides from 99 sets (or partial sets)

4 original texts


The Hecht Magic Lantern Collection was developed by the Hermann and Ann Hecht over a 40 year period as a reference tool and it documents the range of slides produced in the UK in the 19th and early 20th century in both type and content. It underpinned Hermann Hechtís Pre-cinema History, now regarded as a major work on the lanternís history. Since 2004 the collection has been cared for by Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton.

Screen Archive South East is a public sector moving image archive serving the South East of England. Established in 1992 at the University of Brighton as the South East Film & Video Archive, the function of this regional screen archive is to locate, collect, preserve, provide access to and promote screen material related to the South East and of general relevance to screen history.

The screen material in the collection consists of magic lantern slides, film, videotape, digital formats and associated hardware and documentation. There are now over 9,700 films and some 10,000 lantern slides from the 19th century as well as a significant collection of apparatus and related artefacts.

The Hecht Collection is an important lantern resource for screen history and contains a variety of items. Besides around 6,000 slides there are pieces of apparatus, lantern manufacturers' and distributors' catalogues, a collection of lantern readings and a copy of the complete manuscript of Pre-cinema History: an encyclopaedia and annotated bibliography of the moving image before 1896 (London: Bowker-Saur, in association with the British Film Institute, 1993).

The slides include:

  • 600 hand-painted glass lantern slides set in wooden frames, from the 1820s to the 1880s. Subjects include natural history, astronomy, chromatropes, dissolving views and various types of moving slides showing image transformations
  • 2,000 coloured transfer slides, mainly from the 1880s to the 1910s with subjects varying from biblical stories (eg Life of Our Saviour and Pilgrimís Progress) to childrenís fairy tales and to natural phenomena.
  • 1,000 miscellaneous slides with subjects such as travel and art history, the Boer War (1899-2) and the 96-slide set entitled The Empire (1900).
  • 2,500 Life Model slides, mostly produced between 1880 and 1900, with titles such as The Little Match Seller, Beware! or the Effects of Gambling, Jane Conquest and Dickensí The Cricket on the Hearth and Marleyís Ghost.

A selection of these slide sets with cataloguing details and images can be found in Lucerna. This selection of sets were mainly used by the Church Army in the latter part of the C19th and the beginning of the C20th and rescued by Hermann Hecht from disposal in the 1960s. They are a mixture of temperance and melodramatic narratives, life model slide series, children's tales and popular stories.

There is limited access to the originals in the Hecht collection which can only be viewed by appointment. Email:

Lucerna ID: 2500022

Record created by Richard Crangle, Ine van Dooren and Richard Crangle [A]. Last updated 2 May 2014