Thursday, February 24, 2011

News-Maker Lunch: Don Shelby, Pj Doyle, E. W. McDiarmid

Another new audio tape from the Sherlock Holmes Collections has been added to the U Media Archive. This tape dates from October 28, 1987 and is a partial recording of a "News-Maker Lunch" presumably held in Minneapolis and moderated by Don Shelby with comments by Pj Doyle and E. W. McDiarmid. A focus of the commentary was around the recent publication of A Baker Street Dozen: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Thirteen Favorite Sherlock Holmes Stories which was edited by Doyle and McDiarmid.

We don't know who organized the "News-Maker" lunches so I may contact Don Shelby to see if he has any additional information about these events. If anyone else might know about this series I'd be interested in finding out more.

The recording is just under a half-hour in length, perfect for a lunch-time event.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Opening of ACD Research Room in Portsmouth

I received the following from the good folks in Portsmouth. I'm very pleased to share this news.

It's the opening of the Arthur Conan Doyle Research Room, my dear Watson

Whether it's an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript, a poster advertising a Sherlock Holmes play at Richmond Hippodrome in 1912 or even a Sherlock Holmes pipe, sleuths can now explore one of the finest collections relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes in the world.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, Richard Lancelyn Green Bequest was donated to Portsmouth by the writer and collector Richard Lancelyn Green's family following his death in 2004.

A leading Sherlock Holmes specialist and Arthur Conan Doyle Scholar, Richard Lancelyn Green's collection spans over 40,000 items, archives and artefacts relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, collected over 40 years.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Research Room will give students and fans easier access to books, pictures, letters and other other treasures.

Located at the central library, the room was officially opened today (21 February) by author Andrew Lycett.

Cllr Lee Hunt, member for culture, leisure and sport said: "The Arthur Conan Doyle research room is a fitting venue to explore one of the finest collections relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes in the world."

"It's a fantastic resource for schools, colleges and local universities covering many different aspects of the curriculum.

We hope the room will contribute to the development of the central library as a Portsmouth literary centre that celebrate the literary wealth of Portsmouth."

For more information contact Fiona-Jane Brown, Conan Doyle projects officer on 023 9283 4727.


The following events are planned to mark the opening of the new Arthur Conan Doyle Research Room

Monday 21 February
11am - Official opening
2pm – Talk on the birth of Sherlock Holmes by Tony Pointon

Tuesday 22 February
All day – Cryptic crossword workshop with Tim Moorey

Wednesday 23 February
7.30pm – Decoding Sherlock

Thursday 24 February
2pm – Turning the tables by Paul Cissell
7.30pm – Turning the tables: the secrets of Victorian mediumship revealed

Friday 25 February
All day – Code breaking, the war time enigma with Bletchley Park Museum

Saturday 26 February
7.30pm – Sherlock Holmes film night

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another Little Mystery

Another curious recording has found its was from the Sherlock Holmes Collections to the U Media Archive. It is short, just under three minutes, and with an unidentified male voice reading Vincent Starrett's poem "221B". There are three different readings in this short recording, the first ending with the bark of a dog (which might make you jump if you're not expecting it; or smile if you are). The voice does not appear to be that of E. W. McDiarmid (who is heard on the other side of this tape). Perhaps it was another Norwegian Explorer, or Starrett himself?? We don't know. Any ideas? Does the voice sound familiar to anyone of an older generation?

The only other idea I have is that it may, indeed, be McDiarmid but that there was some fault with his recording equipment. I haven't played with the pitch in the recording. But there's something about the reading that says to me that this isn't the case, that it is someone else reading the poem. But who?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

E. W. McDiarmid: The Cult of Sherlock Holmes

There are a number of recordings or talks that I've come across in the Sherlock Holmes Collections with the title "The Cult of Sherlock Holmes." It must have been a title that was "in the air" for a while or that caught people's fancy. It works as a title, but I don't think I've seen anything come out recently using "cult" and Sherlock together. Its maybe just as well. Cult has taken on a bit of a nasty connotation.

But there's nothing nasty about a new recording I've mounted from the Holmes Collections on the U Media Archive. In fact I think it has a certain innocence and sweetness to it, in part because it was a recording I believe was not really meant to be heard. Its a practice piece by a prominent Sherlockian.

I remember when I was much younger, learning to play the trombone (and later the tuba) that people really didn't want to hear me practice. Of course, when you're practicing the tuba where can you go where people can't hear you. (In my case I practiced in the basement and the whole house reverberated with my om pa pas.)

In this case the practitioner was E. W. McDiarmid. In this recording he's preparing a talk to students at Breck School the following day on the cult of Sherlock Holmes. As Dr. McDiarmid mentions towards the beginning of the tape, following this lecture the students would be visiting the Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota. There's no date on the tape, so we don't know when this was made. But its a sweet moment to hear the voice once again of a former University Librarian and founding member of the Norwegian Explorers.

(photo credit of McDiarmid: Marlin Levison, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More on The Informal Club

Both Andrew Malec and George Hubbs provided me with some more information on The Informal Club mentioned in a previous post. According to Mr. Hubbs "The Informal Club, founded in 1894, was a by invitation only group of men and women in St. Paul who met periodically for learned lectures and discussions (of course Sherlock Holmes meshed very well with this description)." Mr. Hubbs father, Ronald, was a member and his son was asked to deliver a talk entitled "The Influence of Sherlock Holmes on Society."

Mr. Malec pointed me to a book, History of St. Paul and Vicinity: A Chronicle of Progress and a Narrative Account of the Industries, Institutions and People of the City and its Tributary Territory by Henry A. Castle, Volume II, Illustrated (Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912). An online version of this book is available here (although the text has some typographical problems due to how it was entered). If you search for "Informal Club" in the full-text version you'll find an lengthy discussion on the history of the club. A Google Books version of volume one is available here.

R. Dixon Smith -- Jeremy Brett and David Burke: An Adventure in Fidelity

We have a bit of a mystery with a new recording we've recently uploaded from the Sherlock Holmes Collections to the U Media Archive. It is an incomplete recording of a talk given by R. Dixon Smith on the various actors who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. There are a number of puzzles associated with this clip. First, we do not know when or were this particular talk was given. We know, from the opening remarks, that it was probably given in conjunction with some gathering of the Norwegian Explorers and that it happened after 1976. Second, the recording is incomplete; we do not know why the second part of the lecture was not recorded.

As for Mr. Smith, we have more information. Indeed, a number of his works are found in our catalog including Lost in the Rentharpian Hills: spanning the decades with Carl Jacobi (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, c1985); Jeremy Brett and David Burke: an adventure in canonical fidelity (Minneapolis: Special Collections & Rare Books, University of Minnesota Libraries, 1986) and (Cambridge, England: Rupert Books, 1998); Remembering Jeremy Brett, (with Michael Cox) (Cambridge, England: Rupert Books, 1997); and Ronald Colman: gentleman of the cinema (Jefferson, N.C. ; London: McFarland, 2002). From the biographical sketch given in the Norwegian Explorers conference proceedings from 1993 ("Rogues, Rascals, and Ruffians") we find this: "R. Dixon Smith attended the University of Connecticut, where he received his BA and MA degrees. He has lectured on early cinema at numerous colleges and universities....He has been a member of the Norwegian Explorers since 1975." At some later time Mr. Smith established Rupert Books in Cambridge, but this establishment is, alas, no longer with us.

Mysteries aside, what we have is an interesting portion of a talk given by someone very knowledgeable on Holmes and cinema. If, by chance, we find the remaining portion of this talk, we'll put them together in a single file.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Charlie Boone Interview with Don Shelby and Derham Groves on U Media

Another new recording has been added to the U Media Archive from the Sherlock Holmes Collections. This audio file is an interview by Charlie Boone of Don Shelby, at the time a reporter for WCCO television and Derham Groves, then an architectural graduate student at the University of Minnesota, on Sherlock Holmes. The interview, on WCCO AM radio, was made just prior to the 1984 conference on Holmes hosted by the University of Minnesota. Both Shelby and Groves were participants at the conference. This was an off-air recording and the sound quality at times is not the best, but its fun to hear Don and Derham together on the air. The clip lasts about eighteen minutes. Our thanks to WCCO radio for allowing us to use this recording on the U Media site.

Friday, February 11, 2011

George Hubbs at the Informal Club

A new recording has been added from the Sherlock Holmes Collections to the U Media Archive. This is a recording of a talk given by George Hubbs at the Informal Club. Mr. Hubbs was the founder and first president of the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota. The tape includes an introduction by E. W. McDiarmid (apparently after the recording was made), commentary by professor Bryce Crawford (founding member of the Norwegian Explorers), and a question and answer period at the end. The length of this audio file is just short of forty-two minutes. The recording was made on January 6 (Holmes' birthday), 1986.

We have no idea who or what the Informal Club was, but have written to George Hubbs asking us if he can supply us with some additional information and context for his talk. We'll report back anything we hear.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

J. Randolph Cox on U Media

A new recording from the Sherlock Holmes Collections has been added to the Libraries' U Media Archive. The audio file features J. Randolph Cox, former documents and reference librarian at St. Olaf College and Editor of the Dime Novel Round-Up. Randy is also a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, having been invested with the title "The Conk-Singleton Forgery Case" in 1967. As Randy recalls the event, "the talk was scheduled during the daily chapel period at St. Olaf. When a talk was not strictly religious in nature it was given the designation of a mini-convocation.'" Randy joined the faculty of St. Olaf in 1962. The convocation talk was broadcast on the public radio station in Northfield, WCAL. (WCAL was later sold by the college to Minnesota Public Radio, much to the displeasure of loyal listeners.) Radio wars aside, this is a delightful talk by a long-time Sherlockian. Enjoy!

McCarthy Images on U Media

Over one hundred new images from the Eugene J. McCarthy collection have been added to the U Media Archive. This represents a small fraction of the photographs documenting the 1968 U. S. presidential candidacy of Senator McCarthy. Other images will be added to the collection over time. Much of the work of scanning and metadata creation is being done by our intern, Anjanette Schussler as a part of her studies with the Library Information Technology program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Many of the images were taken by McCarthy's campaign staff with others taken by photographers for national media outlets and local newspapers. Combined with the audio files mention in my previous post these resources provide a rich window into the work of a major presidential campaign during a turbulent time in our country's history and should be of great interest and use to anyone studying this period and its activities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eugene McCarthy Audio Files on U Media

One of the many enjoyable partnerships I've been involved with was with Tim Pugmire at Minnesota Public Radio as Tim was working on a documentary of the 1968 United States presidential campaign of Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota. We're fortunate to be the home for Senator McCarthy's presidential campaign records. Part of that massive collection includes hundreds of audio tapes made during the campaign and oral history interviews with many of the people involved in the campaign.

A sample of these audio tapes has been mounted on the U Media Archive web site. Most of the fifty-seven recordings currently on the site were digitized by Tim and his colleagues at MPR during the production phase of the documentary and digital copies were provided to the U of M Libraries. We've added a few more recordings since then and plan on adding more.

Some of the significant recordings include: the announcement by McCarthy of his candidacy for president; a campaign song by Peter, Paul and Mary; and the debate between McCarthy and fellow Democratic candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Many of the recordings are speeches McCarthy made on the campaign trail. There's plenty to discover, and we'll be adding more.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Paul Parker and Jim Shannon: An Evening with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

A new audio recording from the Sherlock Holmes Collections has been uploaded to the U Media Archive. The recording dates from May 13, 1987 of a presentation by Paul Parker and Jim Shannon for the "Spring Hill" series of presentations at the Spring Hill Conference Center in Wayzata, Minnesota on the topic "An Evening with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson." The presentation included the showing of the Fox Movietone filmed interview from 1928 of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which is less formal in its presentation than another recording of Doyle on the subjects of Holmes and Spiritualism. (See for this other recording.) The first half of the Parker/Shannon presentation discusses Conan Doyle; the second half discusses Holmes and Watson. The recording runs to about 74 minutes.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Norwegian Explorers 40th Anniversary / Annual Meeting

Two more tapes have been uploaded from the Sherlock Holmes Collections to the U Media Archive. These are recordings of the proceedings of the fortieth anniversary gathering and annual meeting of the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota, a local Sherlockian literary society. The first tape runs to just over 57 minutes and the second tape runs to about an hour.

The meeting begins with a note that E. W. McDiarmid, while not present (having just received a pacemaker and recuperating), was there very much in spirit. The Canonical toasts were given (including one by Explorer founder Bryce Crawford and another by Raymond Shove). The audio quality is not the best, given the position of different speakers in the room (especially for the toasts), but we've tried to compensate a bit in the recording levels on these softer passages.

Pj Doyle was the master (or mistress) of ceremonies. On a registration form for the event (found in the archives of the Norwegian Explorers) the evening was billed as "The Norwegian Explorers Annual Dinner and Holiday Celebration." It was held at the Campus Club at the University of Minnesota on December 8, 1988. In addition to the toasts the evening included: two Sherlockian songs (Aunt Clara being one of them), sung by Bill Teeple, with some audience participation; the business meeting and election of officers for the Explorers; "The Victorian Christmas Tradition" by Linda Reed; "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," a talk by Pj Doyle; and a dramatic presentation based on a script by Edith Meiser of "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (including audience participation). A good time, it seems, was had by all.

KUOM Sherlock Holmes on U Media

Another file has been uploaded from the Sherlock Holmes Collections to the U Media Archive. This one is a radio program, hosted by Steve Benson, on KUOM (the University's radio station) about Sherlock Holmes. The guests for the program included Austin McLean, curator of Special Collections & Rare Books at the University of Minnesota; Bruce Southworth, board member of the local Sherlockian group, The Norwegian Explorers; Alan Shorter, the director of the Children's Theatre Company production of "Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars"; and Julie Briskman, an actress at the Children's Theatre Company, who plays the role of Mrs. Hudson. The program was broadcast on February 14, 1989 and runs to about 50 minutes. Enjoy!

The Speckled Band

The amount of material from the Sherlock Holmes Collections on the U Media Archive site continues to grow. We now have, at the end of this week, over 400 items from the Collections uploaded for viewing and listening.

One of the latest additions to the site is a recording of a production of a radio drama, from a script by Edith Meiser, of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." The radio drama was performed at the University of Minnesota with Don Shelby as Holmes, Dave Moore as Doctor John Watson, Colleen Needles as Helen Stoner, and Tom Hanneman as Dr. Grimesby Roylott. The production is introduced by E. W. McDiarmid, former University Librarian and member of the Norwegian Explorers with comments by Edith Meiser, who attended the performance. The performance is from July 13, 1983 and lasts about 53 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

U Media -- MPR's "Take Out" from 1987

Another new audio file has been added to the U Media Archive from the Sherlock Holmes Collections. This is an off-air recording of an interview that took place as part of a Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) program called "Take Out." The host for this program was Beth Friend. In this particular excerpt the interviewees are three Sherlockians -- E. W. McDiarmid from the University of Minnesota; Pj Doyle, local editor and writer; and by telephone from Sante Fe, New Mexico, John Bennett Shaw, premiere Sherlockian collector. MPR was very kind to grant permission for the mounting of this excerpt on the U Media Archive. Its a thrill to hear all three, but I'm especially drawn to the two who are no longer with us, but who had such an impact on the Sherlockian landscape -- McDiarmid and Shaw. The date of the program is September 14, 1987 and it runs to just under a half hour. Take a trip back in time and enjoy the ride!

Michael Harrison on U Media, part 3

The third and final installment of Michael Harrison's talks at the University of Dubuque in 1984 is now up on the U Media Archive site. I'll have to do some more research into the program for this conference to get the exact order of Harrision's talks, but it appears, from the introduction in this recording, given by John Bennett Shaw, that this was the first of the three presentations. It is entitled "Holmes Then." Enjoy!

Michael Harrison on U Media, part 2

I've located the other two recordings of Michael Harrison's talks given at the University of Dubuque, Iowa for "A Sherlockian Seminar," August 17-19, 1984 and am mounting them on the U Media Archive site. All three talks were recorded and edited by Allen Mackler and made available to interested parties. One of my predecessors in the department had the foresight to request copies -- Allen was living on the East coast at the time -- which I located in a part of the Holmes Collections dealing with what, at that time, was called the Hench/Shaw Collection. The first tape that we uploaded, and which was mentioned earlier in this blog, was Harrison's presentation "The Gaslight Era." This second recording is of Harrison's presentation entitled "The London of Sherlock Holmes." Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Allen Mackler on U Media

Another audio resource has been added to the Sherlock Holmes Collections on the U Media Archive. This is a delightful production by the late Allen Mackler on "Sherlock Holmes and Music." We don't know exactly when Allen produced this tape, but it bears his mark in production, resources, and knowledge of the Holmesian canon. Included in the audio file are rare recordings that no doubt came from Allen's own collection along with his commentary. You may recall, from earlier postings on this blog about Allen, that prior to his coming to Minnesota he worked at public radio station WETA in Washington, DC. At the station he hosted programs focusing on the broadcast of rare recordings of classical music. Allen's first interest, as his obituary noted, was in classical music. Here, in this recording, you have the opportunity to hear Allen talk about perhaps his two greatest interests: music and Sherlock Holmes. If you want to hear it right away follow this link to the entry in the U Media Archive and click on the "play audio" button.