Tag Archives: history

The Gift of Lit

Gift of Lit Library Manifesto

Library Manifesto’s book suggestions for the diverse people in your life.

1. Pen pal with a film fetish: “A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940” by Victoria Wilson

Maybe not as well know as some golden-age stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, or Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck appeared in some of the greatest movies of the time and always showcased her beauty and brains. New Yorkers can see her films on the big screen this December at Film Forum.

2. Lanky nephew with a future in special collections: “The Mighty Lalouche” by Matthew Olshan (Author) and Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

This French postman-turned-boxer children’s story wins with charming illustrations. Archival research gives the story some historical backbone.

3. Uncle who doesn’t know the difference between Marvel and D.C.: “Super Graphic A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe” By Tim Leong

Comic con veteran and clueless novices will get a laugh from the way Leong has organized the worlds of superheros and villains into info-graphics.

4. Boyfriend’s equal parts bookish and artistic dad: “Journey to the Abyss” by Harry Kessler (Author) and Laird Easton (Editor)

German aristocrat and diplomat Count Harry Kessler (1868-1937) was friendly with some of the larger than life philosophers and artists of his time: Bonnard, Stravinsky, Rodin, Renoir, Gide, Monet, Mahler, Matissee, Verlaine, George Bernard Shaw, Munch, Nietzsche, HG Wells and many others. His correspondence is a snapshot inside an important period.

5. Photography loving boyfriend in journalism school: “Watabe Yukichi, A Criminal Investigation” by Yukichi Watabe (Photographer) and Titus Boeder (Author)

This book from 2011 looks like a scrapbook from the 1950s. Watabe’s photojournalism documents a murder investigation in Japan. Minimal textual information is given, recreating the mystery in black-and-white noir scenes.

6. Best friend who sees beauty in the small stuff: “Sylvia Plath: Drawings” by Sylvia Plath (Author) and Frieda Hughes (Author)

There are certain icons in history that the public grapples to understand better. Lives cut off too short that leave questions about the personalities and passions of great artists. Sylvia Plath is one. This book of drawings unveils another layer of her psyche.

7. Co-worker with all the underground tracks: “The Riot Grrrl Collection” by Lisa Darms (Editor), Kathleen Hanna (Preface), Johanna Fateman (Introduction)

The “Riot Grrrl Collection,” is an archive of assorted DIY culture, zines and ephemera from the feminist punk rock movement surrounding Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. As a bonus: throw in movie tickets to “The Punk Singer” about Hanna’s impact on the music industry and the world.

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Latest Obsession: British Pathé


Imagine a film archive that preserves some of the great accomplishments and most tragic and  notable events of Western civilization in the 20th century. The British Pathé Archive, a sprawling collection of news pieces from the early 20th century though the 1970s, made an extraordinary number of newsreels and Cinemazines (longer versions of their newsreels). All 90,000 of their films are available to view online for free.

Enter through the archive’s blog to view archive highlights and read writers remark on the historical films. What stole my heart were the human interest stories. These good humored exposés capture Britian’s sometimes quirky culture.

The progression of film type and quality -the earliest are silent- reflects the changing technology of the moving image. Clips are organized by categories like Lifestyle & Culture, Historical Figures & Celebrities, and War & Revolution. Rare footage includes digitized films and stills of archaeological digs, reporting from both World Wars, the women’s rights movement, and scientific and technological breakthroughs. The British Pathé Archive is on Pinterest too, where I know I’ll be spending many hours as I hibernate this winter.

Some selections from the library I’ve recently watched:

Amelia Earhart, aka “Lady Lindy,” landing in London to a crowd’s welcome.

A poodle spends her afternoon at the beauty salon.

The strange superstitions of the Isle of Man including the “Fairy Bridge” where visitors greet the secret fairies for good luck.

Tea time on a tight rope, this stunt never gets old.

Images from The British Pathé on Pinterest.

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