Jazz

The Red Hot Jazz Archive is an invaluable resource. Scott Alexander has collected thousands of sound files from pre-1930 jazz records, compiled discographies for hundreds of musicians, written biographical sketches for as many, and tracked down images as well. At right is Lil Hardin Armstrong, who played piano on Louis Armstong's "Hot Five" and "Hot Seven" recordings. This is a site to visit over and over.

AMG's All Music Guide is another very useful site, particularly for information about specific musicians. There are no sound files but there are detailed biographies and discographies, lists of influences, and other helpful information.

Jazz Roots provides a useful overview of the early history of jazz, links to information about hundreds of musicians, and recommendations about which CDs to purchase.

National Public Radio's Basic Jazz Recording Library contains links to programs, arranged alphabetically, surveying key recordings in the history of Jazz.

Also from NPR is Jazz Profiles, a series of programs, some available online, about jazz musicians.

The Louis Armstrong Discography provides a recording by recording account of Armstong's career with details about each recording session.

Fats Waller Forever at the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers provides a wealth of information about one of the earliest and most influential jazz players.

A very helpful listing of online resources for Duke Ellington is at a site created in honor of the centennial of his birth.

Movies

[At right is a 1931 portrait of Ramon Navarro, star of the original "Ben Hur," by George Hurrell who became the semi-official photographer of Hollywood stars.]

An excellent place to start is with Janet Gariss' "Silent Movies" essay at AMG's All Movies site. In addition to a clear narrative of the history of silent film, the essay contains links to biographies and filmographies of major directors, writers, producers, and actors and to several thousand films. Complementing this on the same site is Cole Gagne's essay "Comedy, Part I (Silent Era)." This too is a useful historical narrative with links to important persons and films.

Tim Dirks has created a site featuring the 100 greatest movies of all time (in his estimation). The selections include King Vidor's 1925 war drama "The Big Parade," D.W. Griffiths' "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), Griffiths' "Broken Blossoms" (1919), and several other silent films. For each Dirks provides a detailed synopsis along with poster art.

At the University of New Orleans there is a site which contains scenes from "The Birth of a Nation." It is part of the larger DG: Excerpts from D.W. Griffith's Greatest Films (Also known as... "The Lillian Gish House of Pain") site created by David B. Pearson where you can download scenes from several more Griffith films, including "Broken Blossoms."

Pearson also is responsible for Silent Ladies and Silent Gents, a portrait gallery with over 13,000 images of some 1300+ performers. He has also put together scores of QuickTime movies featuring individual stars. The links page contains a host of excellent resources.

There are also an ever growing number of sites dedicated to particular performers. Of these one of the most helpful is The Louise Brooks Society.

Cartoons, Comic Strips, Illustrations, Commercial Art

Don Markstein's Toonopedia is the best starting place for material about comic strips. He provides a history of hundreds of strips, information about the artists, and notes which became the basis for animated movies and/or serials.

More scholarly but less systematic is Animation World Magazine which features articles about virtually every aspect of animation including some on the roots of some animated series in comic strips such as Mark Langer's "Popeye from Strip to Screen" from the July 1997 issue.

Jim Lowe's "Vot Der Dumboozle!" site, dedicated to "excavations" in popular culture," takes its name from the "Jatzenjammer Kids" comic strip and, appropriately, has a thorough and very entertaining history of that strip and a biography of Harold H. Knerr who drew it for many years.

The "Heptune Guide to Betty Boop Cartoons" provides detailed summaries of cartoons plus information about the cartoons and about the jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway, who appeared in the cartoons. In addition to capturing the "flapper" the cartoons also provide some of the earliest appearances of jazz musicians on film. "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You," for example, is the only film of the young Armstrong in performance. There is a discussion of "Betty Boop and Jazz" on this site.

The Disney Corporation has worked zealously to extend and protect its copyright to all things relating to their intellectual property with the result that comparatively little is available on the internet about the early Mickey Mouse cartoons. At right is a drawing from the first, "Steamboat Willie" of 1928. Perhaps the best resource is an essay from the online encyclopedia "Wikipedia."

Illustrations for advertising are readily available online, thanks in large measure to the Library of Congress and Duke University. At the Library of Congress is "The Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920" which is also available at Duke. "The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 - 1920 (EAA) presents over 9,000 images, with database information, relating to the early history of advertising in the United States. The materials, drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, provide a significant and informative perspective on the early evolution of this most ubiquitous feature of modern American business and culture." Also available at Duke is Ad*Access. "The Ad*Access Project, funded by the Duke Endowment 'Library 2000' Fund, presents images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Ad*Access concentrates on five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II, providing a coherent view of a number of major campaigns and companies through images preserved in one particular advertising collection available at Duke University. The advertisements are from the J. Walter Thompson Company Competitive Advertisements Collection of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History in Duke University's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library."

Another wonderful resource is the "Slide Collection" of the late Roland Marchand at the University of California at Davis. Over several decades of research and teaching Marchand collected a huge number of images which his colleagues have scanned and made available. The scans tend to be too dark and benefit from corrections to contrast and tone inside a program like PhotoShop. For each image there are "Roland's Notes" which provide information about the source of the image. "Advertising" images run across thirty-one categories and number in the thousands. There are additional advertisements in other categories such as "success" or "the twenties." Marchand's essay, "Visions of Classlessness," which discusses the ads of the 1920s is available online at the University of Virginia.

A presentation on this site, "Revues and Other Vanities: The Commodification of Fantasy in the 1920s" disputes Marchand's "classlessness" thesis. Several other presentations on this site also explore the use of advertising materials in understanding popular culture. One is "Contagion" which looks at the cooption of eugenics into the ad campaign for Lifebuoy soap. Another examines the ways in which a Modess campaign appropriated the idea of the "modern young woman" and her role in "Modernizing Mother."

At left is a Howard Chandler Christy 1918 recruiting poster, one of several he contributed to the war effort. Useful biographies of Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Alberto Vargas, and about a hundred other important illustrators are at the Bud Plant Illustrated Books site. Each biography contains a number of illustrations of the artist's work as well as links to contemporaries and a list of references.

Another set of biographical sketches, with examples of each artist's work is The Artists in the American Imagists Collection of the National Museum of American Illustration.

The Art Renewal Center which is dedicated to returning art to its 19th century academic traditions, and to banishing modernism to the scrapheap of history, has an enormous online museum with very high resolution images. If you click on Museum and enter "Rockwell" in the search engine, you will discover a collection of over 100 works by Norman Rockwell.

Condé Nast Art provides reproductions of magazine covers, grouped by magazine or by decade or by artist. Since Condé Nast published many of the most popular magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, this is a very rich resource. One will quickly come upon the work of artists like Andre E. Marty, who were very successful in the 1920s but are now virtually forgotten.

Here is a list of noted illustrators of the 1920s from the Norman Rockwell Museum. An exhibit currently online at the Museum features Norman Rockwell and the Artists of New Rochelle and highlights "a community of illustrators."

For the pulps the place to start is with the "albums" at the Epson Photo Center. "Broadway Nights" comes from there. There are tens of thousands of covers available, organized alphabetically by title, often incorporating complete runs of particular pulps like "The Shadow" or "Spicy Detective."

"Coming Attractions" seeks to provide "the latest in pulp-related news." There you can keep track of the latest online transcriptions of "The Shadow" at The Shadow Magazine. These currently number in the hundreds. In addition to the complete texts, you can find the interior art work for many of the stories as well as the covers. Since "The Shadow" was by far the most successful of the pulps, inspiring a long-running radio series as well as film versions, these resources are especially interesting.

Larry Estep has created a pulp site with several hundred magazines available. These are downloadable in PDF Acrobat format. Estep provides helpful thumbnail descriptions. Be careful. This site falls into the category of "guilty pleasures," and you may spend far more time than you planned here.

"Black Mask Magazine" also is a guilty pleasure with several stories available for downloading.

Galactic Central is an ambitious attempt to catalogue ALL fiction magazines published in English. There is a large pulps section organized alphabetically by title.

Vaudeville

The Library of Congress' American Memory project has a site devoted to the American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920. Here one can find a section devoted to the career of Houdini. In addition, "the 61 motion pictures in the Variety Stage collection include animal acts, burlesque, dance, comic sketches, dramatic excerpts, dramatic sketches, physical culture acts, and tableaus." They are an invaluable guide to what Vaudeville acts looked like. There are also 257 English-language and 77 Yiddish scripts for plays. There are ten sound recordings available which "feature comic skits, popular music and songs--including well-known favorites from the Civil War and World War I--and a dramatic monologue." Finally, there are "146 theater playbills and programs" which "provide information about variety theater productions, including names of performers, productions, the different acts that comprised an evening's entertainment, and advertisements." In all it is an amazing resource.

America in the 1930s (at the University of Virginia)

The American Studies Program at the University of Virginia sponsors America in the 1930s, a large and growing resource. Students, both undergraduate and graduate post projects dealing with film, radio (including advertising), print media, and several other categories. There are also links to helpful course sites such as Music 212: History of Jazz Music
Jazz: Marking Time in American Culture created by Professor Scott Deveaux. Although the focus is upon the 1930s, many of the resources look back to the 1920s.