Sunday, February 12, 2006

Library of Congress

For work reasons, I will be travelling to Washington D.C. in mid-May to attend the national booksellers convention. While in the Capitol, I hope to visit the Library of Congress, and do some research on Louise Brooks. (I've never been to the Library of Congress - though I have borrowed a number of inter-library loans from this institution. They have an amazing collection.)

And so, yesterday, I spent most of the day planning my visit. The LOC is the largest library in the world. It has closed stacks. And there are a number of rules which apply to individuals and independent researchers like myself. For example, individuals can only make 9 requests per hour in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room. And scanners, larger than the hand-held variety, are not allowed, etc . . . . Thus, I spent my day figuring out which buildings, collections, and rooms are open when, and what material can be found where. I also obtained call numbers for the various items I hope to look at. I will likely have little more than one day at the LOC - and so, I prioritized which material I want to examine first. I hope to make the most of my time. And there is sure to be some competition for the microfilm reader/printers. I have to work efficiantly.

For a handful of key newspapers, The Library of Congress is the only library in the country which has certain titles readily available on microfilm. For example, in order to complete my survey of particular papers (in search of either Denishawn material or film reviews), I plan to request theRochester Times UnionNewark Star-EagleMinneapolis Morning TribuneBoston Post and a couple of Buffalo papers. I also hope to explore theIndianapolis NewsOklahoma City times, and Rocky Mountain News. The LOC has each of these papers on microfilm. One elusive paper which the LOC does not have on microfilm - but instead has in bound volumes - is the Atlantic City Evening Union. I have long been anxious to look at this paper and uncover what articles it may have run about the near week-long Denishawn engagement there in 1923, the Miss America contest and the filming of American Venus in 1925, and the later screening of the film in 1926. I would guess it is ripe with interesting material!

It is also my understanding that the LOC has 6 of 7 reels of  The Street of Forgotten Men, the first film in which Louise Brooks appeared. I have a query in to the LOC to find out if  this 1925 Herbert Brennon directed film is, in fact, available for individual screening. How thrilling it would be to view the film! If it is, and if I am able to see it, I will take many notes. To be continued . . . . 

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