Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Academy Members Project has now identified the names of over 85% of Oscar Voters!!!

Exciting news today as The Academy Members Project crosses another threshold. We have now identified over 85% of current Oscar voters by name!

I still have hundreds of pages of notes from my trip to the Margaret Herrick Library to go through, so that number may continue to rise throughout the week. But for now, I thought it was a milestone worthy of a celebratory post!

You can check out all the names here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Academy Members’ Legacy Gallery Plaques

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Los Angeles was the opportunity to see a series of 12 bronze plaques which list over 1,000 Academy members from the 1990’s who donated to the endowment campaign for the Academy’s Center for Motion Picture Study.

Originally located on the second floor lobby of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, they were later moved to the Margaret Herrick Library’s outdoor portico gallery, an area that often hosts special events for members, and hence an area where they have a chance to view the plaques.

Linda Harris Mehr, the library’s director, was kind enough to show me the plaques on February 9, 2017. She asked me not to take pictures, but since it is outside I was able to come back over the weekend to write down all of the names by hand.

A title plaque reads: “The Academy Members’ Legacy Gallery: In recognition and appreciation of those Academy Members who, in celebration of the first centennial of motion picture history, acted to preserve that history for the centuries to follow.”

The names appear alphabetically in two groups that represent the year that they gave their donation: 1989-1992, and 1993-1998.

Unlike other lists of donors, this one consists of Academy members ONLY, and happens to come from an era when printed membership lists are difficult to find.

Within The Academy Members Project pages, I have marked the names I found with two tags, both of which will link back to this description page: (Legacy Gallery Plaques 1989-1992) and (Legacy Gallery Plaques 1993-1998).

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Notes from my trip to the Academy Library

I visited the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library on February 2 to 17, 2017. It is a researcher’s dream. There is so much information that you could never see all of it, and the library staff is incredibly kind and helpful. Special thanks go to librarians Linda Harris Mehr, Louise Hilton and Marisa Duron who were particularly helpful during my visit.

A few notes that are specific to our project:

The library’s official policy is that membership information is considered confidential and restricted for forty years, which placed the official cut off date at 1977 as of the time of my visit. But like any large research facility that gets historical documents donated to them, the implementation and enforcement of that policy can vary widely, and I managed to uncover several documents that were dated later than that.

In some cases, I found that there were more recent documents that hadn’t been catalogued yet, so they didn’t realize that membership information was scattered throughout a large file. In other cases, my presence seemed to remind them that the policy existed, and items that had been catalogued and even advertised in their online manuscript inventory were marked as confidential right before I could see them, or right after I had seen them.

In one case, a file even got reclassified as confidential while I was in the middle of reading it! While I was sitting at the table! The library staff was very polite and apologetic about it, but were forced to take it away nonetheless. (Not to worry, though. I’ve already marked my calendar to make a return trip in 2027, the date that particular document will become unclassified again!)

As a result, some of the citations in our project say “May have been reclassified as confidential since my viewing on 2/2/2017”, with a link to this post to help explain why the document may not show up in the library catalogs anymore -- at least until the date that the particular document gets unclassified again.

A few other notes for our researchers:

The library has a generous photocopying policy, but I found that any item that contains a membership list is usually considered ineligible for photocopying -- even if it’s from before 1977. So the best thing to do is to bring your laptop and be prepared to retype all the names by hand, as I did.

The library computers also have a database with all of the Academy Governors from the founding. I’ve already gone through that and should have that updated on the site soon. And as a special treat, I got to view a series of Legacy Gallery Plaques in their outside portico.

All in all, it was a very productive trip for The Academy Members Project. From the few weeks that I was there, I took hundreds of pages of typewritten notes (yes, hundreds), which will take me at least a few months to get fully added to the site.

I can’t wait to go back and see what else there is to find!