Monday, February 17, 2003

Websites worth visiting

One web sites used in the compilation of the LBS bibliographies can be found at www.ancestry.com  This genealogy site contains a database of scanned historic newspapers which are searchable by - in effect - keyword. Normally, individuals use this resource to locate family records, but I have found it to be a valuable resource for film research.

So far, searches on ancestry.com have turned up a handful of articles, captioned photographs, advertisements and film reviews in small town newspapers across the United States. The result are citations from the Zanesville Times-Signal from Ohio, the Appleton Post-Cresent from Wisconsin, the Helena Indepenedent from Montana, etc. . . . Among the fascinating and sometimes rather surprising items which came to light are a February, 1925 captioned photograph mentioning Brooks return to New York from London aboard the S. S. Homeric; an interesting December, 1925 article
"Follie's Girl Sues to Supress Her Very Artistic Photographs;" a mention in a 1940 syndicated gossip column that "Louise Brooks, ex-star, is teaching the rhumba and La Conga in Wichita, Kansas;" and a small town newspaper advertisement from the mid 1950's (long after Brooks was forgotten by just about everyone) evoking glamorous movie stars of the past who started as showgirls.

[ Other similar, searchable newspaper archives include www.newspaperarchive.com and www.paperofrecord.com. Each of these sites have produced interesting material, and each is worth a visit if you are interested in family history or genealogy. Please note: Each of the previously mentioned sites require subscription.]

Silent film buffs and history buffs alike will want to check out the web site for British Pathe (located at www.britishpathe.com ). British Pathe made short newsreel films beginning around the turn-of-the-century. Thousands of these short two and three minute films are now available on-line (in a low resolution format) and can be viewed for free! There is fascinating stuff here . . . . Though there is no Brooks material, one can view vintage film of Chaplin, Fairbanks, and Valentino. For example, there is footage of Valentino's funeral in New York City, which Brooks attended. (A sobbing Poli Negri can be glimpsed, as well as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. as pallbearer.) Try searching by key words like "Charleston," "flapper" or "cinema" for other interesting material.

Another free site worth checking is the silent film database at the American Film Institute (located at www.afi.com/catalog ). There, you will find details on each of Brooks' silent films. Information on Brooks' later sound films is available only to AFI members.

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