Finding Aid for the William Horsley Papers LSC.0540

Finding aid prepared by Esther Leonard; machine-readable finding aid created by Caroline Cubé and edited by Josh Fiala.
UCLA Library Special Collections
Online finding aid last updated on 2019 August 5.
Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
Business Number: 310-825-4988
Fax Number: 310-206-1864

Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
Title: William Horsley papers
Creator: Horsley, Wm. (William)
Identifier/Call Number: LSC.0540
Physical Description: 0.5 linear feet (1 box)
Date (inclusive): 1903-1947
Abstract: William Horsley (1870-1956) founded the Centaur Film Company (later, Nestor Motion Picture Company) in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1907. His film company and other independents merged to create Universal Pictures Company in 1912. The collection contains photographs, correspondence, magazines and magazine articles, and ephemera related to William Horsley's career in the motion picture industry.
Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], William Horsley papers (Collection 540). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. William Horsley, 1959.

UCLA Catalog Record ID

UCLA Catalog Record ID: 9917205113606533 

Processing Information

Processed by Esther Leonard.
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Biographical / Historical

Horsley was born in 1870; left England for the U.S.; worked as a boiler maker; with his brother David, founded the Centaur Film Company (later, Nestor Motion Picture Company) in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1907; along with his brother and other independents, founded Universal Pictures Company in 1912; designed and supervised the construction of Universal City; in 1916 he set up the Bill Horsley Laboratory (later, Hollywood Film Enterprises, Incorporated), which developed and printed 35mm. films; he died in 1956 in Los Angeles, California.

Biographical / Historical

William and David Horsley were pioneers in the motion-picture industry, starting in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1907, under the name of Centaur Film Company (later Nestor Motion Picture Company). For the first three years, William was a silent partner, financing the little company which brother David was running. But from 1910 until 1916 he played an active role in the company running the laboratory part of the business. In 1916 he withdrew from the company and set up the Bill Horsley Laboratory, later known as Hollywood Film Enterprises, Inc., devoted exclusively to the developing and printing of 35mm. films.
He and his brother, along with other independents (notably Carl Laemmle and his Independent Motion Picture Company, known as IMPS, Swanson and Ed Porter) founded Universal Picture Company in 1912, and succeeded in defeating the monopolistic hold on the industry of the Patents Company and General Film Company (the famous Latham Loop controversy).

Scope and Content

Collection contains photographs, correspondence, magazines and magazine articles, and ephemera related to William Horsley's career in the motion picture industry. Also contains a one-page holograph autobiography by Horsley. Includes photographs of Horsley, Nestor Motion Picture Company staff, and the opening of Universal Studios. Journals, including Motive Power, feature biographical accounts of Horsley.

Online Items Available

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: William Horsley Papers (56 items). 

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Motion picture industry -- United States -- Archives.
Horsley, Wm. (William), -1956--Archives.
Universal Pictures Company.

box 1

56 photographs taken at the opening of Universal Studios, 1915.

box 1

2 photographs of William Horsley.

box 1

A biography of David Horsley by William Horsley. In International Photographer, March-April 1934.

box 1

National Photographic Dealer, August 1943.

Scope and Contents note

Issue features William Horsley on the occasion of his 36th year in business.
box 1

Motography, vol.13 no.1, pp.17-18. January 2, 1915.

Scope and Contents note

Article describing William Horsley's role in the establishment of Universal City.
box 1

Bound volume of Motive Power, vol.1-2, , a monthly journal devoted to scientific boiler making. 1902-1903

Scope and Contents note

William Horsley worked as a boiler maker shortly after arriving in this country from England and this publication contains a biographical sketch of him (vol.1, p.82), articles by him (vol.1, pp.90, 131, 136, 145, 150, 166, 177, 228; vol.2, p.10 [under the pseudonym of Nutmeg], 12, 48, 54, 68, 82, 92, 124, 175, 213)].
box 1


box 1


General Physical Description note: 1p. holograph manuscript.
box 1


box 2

Panoramic photographic of Nestor Motion Picture Company staff, Photo by Ramsey. December 23, 1911.

box 1

David Horsley biography by Marc Wanamaker, Bison Archives 1912

Language of Material: English.