Friday, June 25, 2010

The Library of Congress visit

As planned, I went to the Library of Congress on Wednesday. It's a huge place with multiple buildings and security checkpoints, plus rules and regulations like crazy. I could easily have been intimidated there if I wasn't so excited about what I might find.
I had already searched their archive listings on their website and identified about 6 months of German newspapers I wanted to see. I also identified 3 LOTS of photos I wanted to look through, about 300 photos altogether, and I submitted requests via email for permission to access both the newspapers and photos. Librarians in both departments emailed me back the same day, acknowledging my request and assuring me the materials would be ready and waiting for me on Wednesday when I arrived. And they were right.
With my bare hands, I actually touched newspapers from 1938 Germany. I used the LOC's scanner to save dozens of pages of text and newspaper photos onto my memory stick. I had to don white gloves to look through files of photos, and I was able to photograph the photos (sans flash) to save the image to my computer. Plus, I was able to access and print out full-text articles from the Times of London during 1938 to help me understand the world-view of German events at the time. What an amazing resource. What an experience.
I am indebted to Amber Paranick and Jeff Bridgers, Research Librarians at the LOC for their help in accessing and readying these materials for me. I plan to cite both of them (plus Elisabeth Angermair, helpful librarian in Munich's Stadtarchiv) in 'Acknowledgments' when I get this book of mine published.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Focusing for my final research run (I think)

As I'm finishing the finale, I find I have a few outstanding questions to answer in order to accurately ground the piece in place and time. A little more research is needed in primary sources, newspapers in this case, and yet finding newspapers printed in Germany in 1938 has been a challenge. Since the German media was controlled by the Nazi Party, the newspapers went out of print when the war ended and most of the copies were herded into large libraries as part of the 'denazification' of Germany. Lucky for me, the Library of Congress has original copies in bound volumes, and a librarian there will get them from remote storage for me next week. Yay!
I'm very excited to get my hands on them, look at the pictures, and search for specifics of the Day of German Art procession which figures into my finale. Facts like time of day, number of participants, number of spectators, and weather should be there. Random points of interest such as a spectator interview, maybe a photo of a street vendor at the parade, etc. will hopefully add color to my portrayal of the event.
Now if only I could figure out how to save a scanned newspaper file to a Word document so I could run it through a translator.