Saturday, January 20, 2018

Introducing The New Houdini Chronology


Today I'm excited to launch a MAJOR new site feature that I think will be of interest to Houdini fans and a valuable tool for researchers.

Most of us are familiar with the superb work of the late Frank Koval. In 1992-94, Frank self-published six volumes called The Illustrated Houdini Research Diary in which he tried to pinpoint exactly where Houdini was performing every week of his professional life.

Like everyone, I've kept Koval by my side and have turned to it many times. But I also continued to update it for my own research purposes. Thanks to new books and the emergence of online resources such as newspapers.com, I've been able to fill in many gaps and make corrections. I've also reworked Koval's original dating methodology, adding Sunday to each week, and added select events. I now believe I have a much improved and expanded Houdini chronology, and starting today I would like to share it.

I've now uploaded the first wave of years of what will eventually be the complete chronology online. I've done my best to provide accurate dates and places (trying to find 2 sources for all entries), but I'm sure I've gotten things wrong. I've therefore activated Comments on each year's page so anyone can provide updates and corrections or any feedback whatsoever. An advantage of doing this online is that it can be improved with each new discovery. This will always be a work in progress.

Below is a link to the homepage where you can begin your chronological journey through Houdini's life. I've also added a new drop-down menu where you can leap directly to the year of your choice. I hope you all enjoy...

18 comments:

  1. I just got 1905 done in time to add today. A little bonus. :)

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    1. Wow!! This is a terrific site addition John. Many thanks for your tireless work. Re. the 1905 list. Just for the record, I live in Blackpool and the Hippodrome was not situated between the Central and Victoria Piers. It was situated on the corner of King Street (north) and Church Street, a short distance inland from the Promenade coast. The only theatre situated between the two piers was the Palace Theatre (that was the number 1 theatre in the day and Houdini did not appear there. During the time Houdini was appearing at the Hippodrome, he did a 'challenge' packing crate escape in the theatre. Quite a while ago I sent you an email about Houdini's time in Blackpool along with a photo of what the Hippodrome looked like at the time.Perhaps you didn't get that email.

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    2. Ah, wonderful, Karl. Thanks so much for the correction. I've updated the entry. See, this is why I love having this online -- everyone can help improve it! :) And sorry I didn’t respond to your email. When I’m swamped, I sometimes neglect my Houdini email. But it was received and appreciated. Great shot of the Hip.

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    3. Hi John.
      So pleased you got the email I sent. I will be visiting my local library newspaper archives in about six weeks time as I have some researching to do and will add press reports/ads about Houdini to my list.

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  2. Amazing, John, this is truly historically thrilling!

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    1. Thanks. And in researching these I'm finding all kinds of cool little tidbits that will make great individual posts.

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  3. Oh this is simply awesome. Many thanks. This may become one of your top works. Is there any way someone can do an index, say, by State? It would be invaluable to quickly ascertain where HH played before visiting a State, or if just performing research for a geographical area.

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    1. Unfortunately, what I can do here on Blogger is pretty limited, so I can't create custom indexes, etc. I was thinking it would be cool to enter all this into a database or spreadsheet so one could call up a specific state, etc. But I'm afraid the best I can do is provide the raw data to create something like this on your own.

      BTW, most web browsers search page text, so in each individual page you can punch in a search for, say, "CA", and it will highlight all entires.

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  4. Dream come true Again Thanks
    Dorothy Dietrich & Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum, Scranton, PA
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

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  5. Just added 1895. Nailing down all the Welsh Bros. stops was a trick, but I'm surprised how many I found! Wish I knew exactly when he played the Wild Man.

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  6. One of our great regrets is that our good friend, Ken Silverman, ended his wonderful, historic biography at 1926, and covered none of the aftermath. Not sure how you are going to cover this. Your entire website is key.

    Love,
    Dorothy and Dick
    The Houdini Museum, Scranton, PA,
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

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    1. I'll be covering it on a single page, "A.D.", in which I'll list significant events from 1927 to present day. BTW, I need the opening date of your Houdini Museum. Definitely one of those significant events. :)

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  7. As a child I became facinated with Harry Houdini after seeing a "4:30" movie on channel 7 with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh; obviously realizing that movies are usually "loosely based" on true stories, I started to look into Harry Houdini and was totally interested in his life and humble beginnings. Though hardly a historian or resource of information, it was an interesting part of my life as I then decided at that age "I'm going to be a magician"! Alas, I did not follow that flight of fancy but am excited to see that someone is putting together such a volume of info. For me, and I'm sure others, it will be an interesting read! Thank you for this!

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    1. Thanks Abby. The story of how you became interested in HH is very much the same as mine. That Tony Curtis movie created a lot of Houdini and magic fans!

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