I am planning a trip to Los Angeles to visit the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library from February 1 to 18, 2017, and just received word that I have been approved to access not only their general collection, but their Special Archival Collections as well!
This is obviously a huge opportunity to build our Academy Members Project. Many of the documents in the library’s archives simply do not exist anywhere else. And since I don’t know when my schedule and budget will allow me to travel down there again, I will be organizing my work over the next three months to make the most of my time in the archives.
Here is what I’m planning, and how you can help:
The Plan for December 2016 And January 2017
My focus for December and January will be familiarizing myself with the library’s collections using their online card catalog, and reserving documents from their manuscript inventory. This will allow me to “hit the ground running” and maximize the number of documents I’m able to view once I arrive.
Since these months are also the heart of the Oscar season, I will do my best to keep up with the current year’s Oscar news. But I would ask all our readers and researchers to be extra vigilant this year: If you see an article, interview or social media interaction that names academy members (or non-members), please send it to me. Even if it is something that you think I would normally find on my own.
In December and January I hope to continue the pattern of updating the website once a week with all of our findings, as well as sending our monthly newsletter to researchers.
However, there are some aspects of our project that I will be putting on hold: The creation of new photo montages that appear on the top of each page will have to wait until after my trip. I will also be doing less publicity for our project than I have done in the past.
The Plan for February 2017
In February, I will obviously be in the Academy Library every minute that I possibly can, which means eight to ten hours a day for each day they are open. I’m also trying to schedule trips to the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, UCLA’s Performing Arts Special Collection and other nearby archives that might have lists of Academy members for the days when the Academy’s library is closed.
For updates to the website, I am going to take a “wait and see” approach. If I have the energy, I may try to upload my findings each night or each weekend during my trip. But if I find that my eyes are glazing over from reading that much text, then I may hold the updates until after I return home so that i can be as fresh as possible during my hours in the library.
For the weeks when I’m in the library looking through the archives, I will be heavily reliant on you as readers and fellow researchers to watch for news articles and social media links about the current season. Oscar parties, nominee interviews and punditry will be coming at a fever pitch during that time, and I may be uncharacteristically out of the loop. Best to send me anything you find, just in case I missed it!
I realize that this is a break from many of the traditional patterns of how I’ve researched, updated and publicized the site during past Oscar seasons. But this really is a unique opportunity for us. I believe that we could easily add hundreds of current and historical members to our list during the weeks that I am there.