Read Houdini's books via Google Books and Library of Congress

houdini-chains.jpgThe Harry Houdini Collection from the Library of Congress is available (at least 30 or 40 full texts of published materials) through Google Books.
Read titles such as The right way to do wrong: an exposé of successful criminals and Ventriloquism explained: and juggler's tricks, or legerdemain exposed: with remarks on vulgar superstitions. Also at the Library of Congress: Houdini a Biographical Chronology and the Variety Stage: Harry Houdini collection. [via more or less bunk]


  1. This is excellent! There’s some great stuff here. Unfortunately the full text of “A Magician Among the Spirits” doesn’t seem to be available.

  2. We sure could use another Houdini these days, exposing charlatans. I wonder what he could have done with corporate law?

    1. He wouldn’t have done anything with corporate law – not the fight he was out for or equipped to handle. P&T ‘s bullshit is the modern day Houdini expose (stubbornly biased but honest) equivalent

  3. thanks for the link – when I go to the google link I only see “No preview available” – Maybe because I’m in Canada and google doesn’t know that it’s public domain here?

  4. This is great stuff, but the real treasures from the Houdini collection at the Library of Congress is the collection of his scrapbooks and diaries – It’s really incredible to be able to sit down and thumb through his original handwritten material, from the note he wrote to his parents telling them he was running away from home to join the circus, to original sketches of stage magic devices. My father took me to check out the Houdini collection at the LOC about 20 years ago, when I was around 13, and it made a huge impression on me.

  5. Could some librarian please explain why they always have to write quotation marks and underlines on title pages of library books and periodicals, as in the example page pictured? Is it a case of literate librarians pawning off the shelving duties to illiterate assistants who don’t know standard rules of ignoring “The” at start of a title or incapable of finding an author’s last name? Is it obsolete for libraries that use the Dewey decimal system? Is this something that librarians used to do but have been able to stop, or will it always be with us?

    Dag, man.

  6. Deidzoeb-those marking aren’t about shelving, they’re about cataloging the book. Of course in most cases, figuring out the author and title is trivial, but in others….foreign articles, hyphenated names, surnames as forenames, etc. it can be harder. Of course LC doesn’t use Dewey, they LC call numbers, as do most research libraries. This has become less common in most libraries as they do little original cataloging: looking at the book and entering all the information into the library catalog from it. For the last 30-40 years or so, most libraries instead buy complete catalog records. In fact, LC started selling filled out catlog cards more than 100 years ago.

  7. “Could some librarian please explain why they always have to write quotation marks and underlines on title pages of library books and periodicals…”

    I’m pretty sure those marks are the result of original cataloging. Identifying the title of the book as cataloged and the author’s last name. You don’t see it on most books nowadays because copy cataloging is pretty well the way things are done nowadays. Here’s an example of guidelines librarians used to follow…

  8. @rwmj: Google’s statement about copyright on the first page is actually quite well-balanced when you read it closely. They ask you to do lots of things but don’t claim that it’s illegal to do any of them.

  9. chgoliz

    The story could still be true.

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were friends and hung out with each other.

    From wikki

    Conan Doyle was friends for a time with the American magician Harry Houdini, who himself became a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s following the death of his beloved mother. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently attempted to expose them as frauds), Conan Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers, a view expressed in Conan Doyle’s The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Conan Doyle that his feats were simply illusions, leading to a bitter public falling out between the two.[

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