Saturday, March 24, 2018

The New Houdini Chronology is complete

What better day than today, HOUDINI'S BIRTHDAY, to announce the completion of my New Houdini Chronology. The chronology covers 144 years from the birth of Ehrich Weiss to today, with the years of Houdini's professional life broken down into every week. When I started this, I was simply thinking I could fill in some of the gaps left behind by Frank Koval in his own Illustrated Houdini Research Diary. But I now feel like I've gone way beyond what Koval was able to offer. I also feel like I've learned more about Houdini in the past four months than I have in the past 40 years. This has been a Wild project indeed.

So what now? Well, I will continue to work on chronology, adding more appearances and significant events, and no doubt making corrections to what I have. But eventually I will offer some kind of printed version. I'm also toying with the idea of moving the entire thing into its own dedicated website where I can make it more searchable. But for the moment, I'm just happy  to have all the years completed to the best of my ability.

You can access the Chronology via the HOME page or the drop down menu above. You'll also see a timeline across the top of each page so you can jump to a specific year. One thing I'd recommend for collectors is to look up the dates on your signed photos and letters. It's fun to discover exactly where Houdini was when he signed your item.

Hope you all find this a useful tool. Enjoy!


UPDATE: I've decided to go back under the hood and change my weeks to conform with ISO 8601 and run Monday to Sunday (instead of Sun. to Sat.). Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on this.

Related:

22 comments:

  1. Truly wild!....amazing work, John. Congratulations on the impressive accomplishment.

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  2. Many thanks for this. Your efforts and diligence to detail is much appreciated.

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  3. Great work, John! A noble effort. Very useful. Just used it yesterday....

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  4. Impressive! I can scratch that off my bucket list, as you've beaten me to it! lol. Great job!

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  5. Fantastic work John. I look forward to the printed version in due course.

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  6. John Hinson great nephew of Bess and HarryMarch 24, 2018 at 2:34 PM

    Outstanding great job.

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  7. What a birthday gift you gave to Harry

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  8. Thanks, John, for the dedication you have brought to this task. We will all be richer for being able to follow this chronology of Houdini's life and legacy. The serious researcher on Houdini now has a powerful new tool to use!

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  9. Impressive - thank you for providing all this amazing information and work!

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  10. A truly astounding accomplishment John. Many thanks for your dedicated time and effort in providing us with this huge resource.

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  11. If this is not the most important HH research tool, it's in the conversation. Many thanks for your never-ending dedication. I'm sure all of us will as you advise check our collection, clips etc. for perspective and input. Something tells me this will not be a static endeavor, but an evolving journey, not just enriching our collective knowledge, but guaranteeing that HH continues here in the present, touching the lives of those he never met. A searchable database would likewise be very useful. Now that I have these dates, I plan to go back to the trail to search for old, discarded Houdini articles from new dates when he was in Ohio. Imagine the old, forgotten stories we can now conjure up-Dale from Cleveland.

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  12. Thanks everyone for all the kind words. Saying "it was my pleasure" has never been more true. I enjoyed everything about doing this and learned so much myself.

    My plan now is to go through the entire thing again doing clean up and adding more links and events (already today I made some new additions). The red date at the top of each page will always reflect the most current update.

    BTW, in doing this, my respect for Milbourne Christopher's Houdini The Untold Story has gone sky high. Every time I felt like I had uncovered something brand new, there it was mentioned in Christopher. He must have made for himself something very similar to what we have here. Incredible work.

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  13. Marvelous, John. Your chronology is inspiring me to revisit certain aspects of my Houdini show. Your generosity in sharing your painstaking research is much appreciated!

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  14. Thanks for doing this! When I saw the image for this post, I briefly thought it was a book cover, a book which I'd have bought immediately!

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    1. It will be a book eventually, Michelle. When I feel confident that it's complete and correct enough to be set in print. Still work to do. But thanks for the early support!

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  15. Thanks again all.

    So here's my current dilemma with the chronology and I'd love some feedback.

    Koval ran his weeks Monday through Saturday (omitting Sunday entirely). I wanted Sundays in my chronology (Houdini did stuff on Sundays!), so my weeks run Sunday through Sat., which is typical calendar format for the U.S. Also, in some cases, Houdini began his week at a theater with a Sunday matinee, so this approach nicely captures those. At the very least he was in town.

    However, if you have a program or playbill, it will read "Week of Oct 5", always starting on a Monday. But when you come to the chronology, you won't find the "week of Oct 5", you see a week starting Oct 4. And if you don't know the year, you may find yourself going to the wrong year. Most books also reference Houdini's start at a theater with the Monday date, so my chronology and those references don't seem to jive. So when dealing with documentation, you have to allow for my Sunday start decision, and maybe that's not ideal for folks.

    In the U.S., starting a calendar week on Sunday is typically, but the international standard is to start on Monday. So I'm wondering if I should change my weeks to Monday through Sunday? This won't take as much work as it might seem, although I'd like to document those Sunday matinees, so that will take some work.

    Any thoughts? Thanks.

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  16. Leave it the way it is. A Houdini researcher should know the year he or she is delving into, or at least have an idea.

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    1. Too late. I've already changed up to 1921. I can already see it's better this way, and as a research tool, it should adhere to the ISO standard.

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  17. Houdini Museum repeat from another post
    Monday to Sunday seems good.
    Often custom due to blue laws in show biz, theaters close Sunday, acts travel and open on Mon, or Tues.
    Just a thought.

    D and D
    The Houdini Museum, Scranton, PA
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

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