Sunday, October 9, 2005

Louise Brooks Society needs your help

The Louise Brooks Society needs your help in finding articles and other hard-to-get printed material. Here's your chance to become a contributor to the LBS bibliographies.

The LBS hopes to fully document the life and career of Louise Brooks. One ongoing project is the collection of magazine and newspaper articles about the actress, especially vintage reviews of Brooks' films. Hundreds of articles have already been found. But more await discovery. The LBS is especially interested in obtaining photocopies of newspaper articles and films reviews from the following American cities. Photocopies should be legible and complete. Please note the name and date of publication, and title and author of the article (if not already included in the copy).

Springfield, MA
Worcester, MA
Lowell, MA
Cambridge, MA
Fall River, MA

Hartford, CT
New Haven, CT
Bridgeport, CT
Waterbury, CT

Utica, NY
Troy, NY
Schenectady, NY
Binghamton, NY

Atlantic City, NJ
Patterson, NJ
Trenton, NJ
Jersey City, NJ
Scranton, PA
Erie, PA
Allentown, PA
Harrisburg, PA

South Bend, IN
Evansville, IN
Gary, IN
Ft. Wayne, IN

Peoria, IL
Rockford, IL
Springfield, IL
Decatur, IL
Quincy, IL

Kansas City, KS
Lawrence, KS
Independence, KS
Miami, FL
Tampa, FL
Orlando, FL
Jacksonville, FL

Mobile, AL
Selma, AL
Tuscaloosa, AL
Birmingham, AL

Knoxville, TN
Chattanooga, TN
Memphis, TN

Savannah, GA
Little Rock, AR
Charlotte, NC
Norfolk, VA
Richmond, VA
Shreveport, LA
San Antonio, TX
Fort Worth, TX
El Paso, TX
Austin, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Galveston, TX

Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM

Anchorage, AK
Juneau, AK
Fairbanks, AK

Denver, CO
Pueblo, CO
Phoenix, AZ
Boise, ID
Fargo, ND
Salt Lake City, UT

How to get started. Visit you local city or university library, and make your way to an information, periodicals, or newspaper & magazine desk. Next, ask if there is an index for your local paper covering the 1920's and 1930's. Hopefully, your newspaper is indexed. Some are - some are not. If you local paper is not indexed, the search for articles will take more time but is not impossible. Please read on . . . .

If your newspaper is indexed, searching it may be a bit tricky. First, try looking up "Brooks, Louise" and see what you find. You may be lucky enough to come across photos or articles about the actress. Film reviews, however, are not likely to be indexed under the Brooks' name. Thus, try searching under "Motion Pictures" or "Moving Pictures." Individual reviews may be listed under one of these headings. If nothing turns up, as a last resort, try searching the general index for a few film titles such asAmerican VenusBeggars of Life, or Canary Murder Case. [ A complete list of movies in which Brooks' appeared can be found in the filmography at the back of the Barry Paris biography, or on the LBS website. A checklist of films is always worth bringing along on any research trip. ]

If you were lucky enough to find listings in an index, you will next need to locate the articles themselves. Chances are past issues of a local newspaper are stored on microfilm. (Most libraries no longer keep bound issues of old papers.) Thus, you will need to locate the appropriate microfilm rolls which include the dates you may have come across. Machines called microfilm readers will enable you to quickly scroll through the microfilm in search of an article. And what's more, many microfilm readers have a photocopy function - so you can make a copy of whatever you might find.

Keep in mind that not all of Brooks' films played in every city or town - and if they did, not every one would have been reviewed. During the silent film era, movies usually ran one week - and so, critics wrote about a film within the first few days of its opening. Typically, films opened on Saturdays or Sundays - and reviews ran on Mondays or Tuesdays. (Films which opened mid-week for brief two or three day runs were rarely reviewed.) Also, keep in mind that while you are looking for reviews, you may come across related articles, advertisements, and pictures. Some of this material is worth copying as well.

If your newspaper is not indexed - and you are dedicated to finding film reviews - you may end up needing to scroll through months of microfilm. It is a time consuming process, but fun and worth the effort should you find vintage material. Once you've selected a film, find out when it was released. [ Release dates of  Brooks' films can be foundin the filmography at the back of the Barry Paris biography, or on the LBS website. ] Then, start looking through microfilm around that time. Generally speaking, Brooks' American films opened within two months of their official release date. (In the 1920's, films did not open on the same date across the country, as is common practice today.) It should also be noted that none of Brooks' European films were shown in the United States at the time of their European release - except Pandora's Box, which was screened in New York City ten months after it's Berlin debut.

Without citations or the help of an index, one short-cut is skipping from weekend to weekend. Newspapers of the time usually ran articles or advertisements on Saturday or Sunday - and one need only check the entertainment pages to see what was showing during a given week. It is also worth pointing out that many cities had two or three daily newspapers. And usually, but not always, competing papers would run reviews on the same day - usually on a page devoted to the arts, amusements, or the movies (then sometimes called "photoplays"). Scroll through a some weeks of any given newspaper, and you'll soon figure out how the paper "works."

The Louise Brooks Society would be happy to answer any questions about research. Please email the LBS with your query.

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