Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Benchley Liberty magazine articles now online at Google Books

Great news for Benchley addicts! Google has begun to scan and display the contents of vintage magazines, including Liberty, where a lot of Mr. Benchley’s articles appeared. They're available at the Google books web site (books.google.com) a wonderful, but still relatively little-known, online resource. (In fact, the Liberty articles are taken not from the original 1930s issues, but rather from 1970s reprints, so called "Nostalgia" Liberty magazines featuring the best of past issues. Not all of the original Benchley Liberty articles are available yet.)

For example, Benchley’s article, Defying the Conventions, from the June 4th, 1932 issue of Liberty, appears with its original illustration and interesting period ads.

To see the magazine hits, just do a simple search at books.google.com, and you’ll get relevant magazine hits listed among the book hits. But better yet, you can isolate just the magazine hits by first going to “advanced search” and clicking on “magazines.” (I got 77 magazine hits for “Robert Benchley”).

I also did an advanced search for “Dorothy Parker” and discovered, among the 146 hits, her August 16th, 1924 Liberty article, Every Woman an Interior Decorator. Again, this scan is from a 1970s reprint.

The Google magazine scanning program is brand new (it began in December, 2008), so many more magazine issues will undoubtedly be added to the list over the coming months. Currently you can search back issues of such titles as Liberty, ("nostalgia" reprints only, so far),Popular Mechanics, New York, Jet, and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. (Now there’s an interesting combination of titles!)

The magazine article scanning program is part of a major copyright agreement that Google recently reached with publishers to make information from out-of-print books and old magazines available online. The Google blog site has an article about the agreement: Search and find magazines on Google Book Search. By the way, Google notes on their site that they have received copyright permission to display these scanned articles.

Speaking of Google, Gordon Ernst informs me that there is a great set of Life magazine photographs of Robert Benchley performing in a radio show. You can see them here. Thanks, Gordon!

- Chris Morgan


Chris Morgan said...

I just realized why the dates on the Liberty magazines were listed as being from the 1970s. These were actually "nostalgia" reprints of articles from past issues of Liberty, done in the early 1970s.

Also, Gordon Ernst informs me that there is a Life magazine photo archive on Google images, with great photos of Benchley doing a radio broadcast. You can see them here.

Thanks, Gordon!

-- Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan said...

After going through the various Benchley-related hits on Google books, I checked and found that all the Benchley Liberty magazine articles scanned so far have appeared in one or more of the Benchley book collections. Most are in Benchley Lost and Found.

But the web hits do include several other interesting tidbits of information about Benchley from New York Magazine:

Review of the movie, Live, Love and Learn by 'Beverley Hills'

A Night of the Round Table” – a recreation of the round table characters, done at the Algonquin for charity, noted in New York magazine

A 1989 reading, “A tribute to Robert Benchley on the 100 anniversary of his birth”, New York magazine, This was a benefit for the PEN Writer's association, and featured readings from Roy Blount, Jr., Veronica Geng, Fran Lebowitz, and Calvin Trillin. It must have been quite an evening!

Benchley wrote “no fewer than 73 pieces for Liberty magazine”

Shalanna said...

These scanned pages are SO WONDERFUL. Reminds me of my junior high school days in the library, when I'd go get a bound volume of LIFE or LOOK or THE NEW YORKER from as far back as the Richardson Public Library had them at the time*, and I'd spend hours just paging through the old ads and old articles. Fascinating history! And I ended up with some material for research papers, as well (which was my pretext at the time).

*Who knows if the library even has them any more? They now specialize in DVDs, CDs, and multiple copies of the vapid, clunky "best-sellers" of today. Bleah! And they've even taken off those wonderful 1970s "Zodiac" doors. I wonder who got those when they remodeled? Sigh.

Thank you SO MUCH for the links to the articles and the photos!

Matt said...

Glad I found your blog!
one other Benchley piece you might like at OldMagazineArticles.com is from 1916 during has early Vanity Fair days:


They also had this profile of Benchley from Stage Magazine:


Both can be printed.

Matt said...


Here is the URL I intended to post; in this article Benchley dumps all over Greenwich Village bohemians:


Matt said...


This is the URL I intended to leave:


-in this 1916 article Benchley dumps all over Greenwch Village bohemians.

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