Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A visit to an archive

As there were no inter-library loans waiting for me at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), I decided to walk over to the near-by San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum (SF-PALM). I had been there once before (perhaps two or three years ago?) to research Louise Brooks, when I looked through their clipping files and books. At that time, I came away with copies of a few choice items.

This time, I had it in mind to browse dance magazines from the 1920's. Like most libraries and archives, this institution has scattered holdings. I looked through actual issues (not microfilm) ofDance Lovers and The Dance - as these were the only periodicals which they had from the 1920's. I had hoped to find three particular articles, and ended up with two. One of them, "The Rhythmic Road to Hollywood" from 1927, was about film actresses who got their start as dancers or showgirls. It featured a portrait of Brooks as well as a paragraph of text about the actress which noted her apprenticeship with Denishawn and experience with the George White Scandals and Ziegfeld Follies. The other, a two-and-a-half-page article from 1928 entitled "The Wichita Wow," was all about Brooks and her beginnings as a dancer. This is one of the most interesting early pieces I have ever read about the actress. Especially since the author seemed to have actually interviewed Louise Brooks!

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