Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Browse Houdini's library online

Here's a mid-week treat. David Byron, who blogs at, alerts me to, a website that catalogs libraries, including Houdini's.

Houdini described his library as "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc." The largest portion of the library was bequeathed to the Library of Congress, and that forms the basis of this catalog. Additional books have been added from the Messmore Kendall collection, now at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin, and from various auction and bookseller catalog descriptions.

It's fun to scan through these 80 pages and see what kinds of books Houdini had on his shelf. It's quite a mix of titles, with everything from The Esoteric Basis of Christianity or Theosophy and Christian Doctrine by William Kingsland, to the unfortunate New Minstrel and Black Face Joke Book. One thing is for sure, Houdini's obsession with the mysteries of life after death is made very clear here. (profile) (library)

Thank you David!

1 comment:

  1. Just took a quick look at a few of the books Houdini had in his library: HOLY MOSES, that's a lot of stuff, and a lot of rare books! (I'm glad Houdini spent all that time and money browsing bookstore after bookstore for new finds---I think a lot of these treasures in his collection wouldn't be around for the public to enjoy via the Library of Congress and Library Thing if he hadn't been such a voracious bookworm)