Further Research: Harry Houdini

One thing we often find ourselves doing at the WWPL Library & Research Center is helping people even when we do not have what they are looking for. Suppose you read that Woodrow Wilson met Harry Houdini. You might want to find additional information about what actually happened at such an exciting event. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the magician in our digital archive. The next place to turn would be the Library of Congress, where many of the official papers of the Wilson administration are held. However, a search there also shows no results.


Even more distressing for researchers; a search of the archival finding aid for the Wilson Papers also finds nothing. What do you do next? Well, the first thing to remember is the index of the Woodrow Wilson Papers. That is a bit more difficult to work with, but it lists every letter writer and recipient, including, on page 672, Houdini H to WW. To track down this letter from December 4th, 1914, we then have to go back to the finding aid. Luckily for us, Series 2 is organized chronologically. With a little bit of hunting around, it is possible to find the microfilm image of the letter.

You might want a bit more than that. It is always worthwhile to check out the pictures at the Library of Congress, but they do not appear to have anything to link Houdini with Wilson just a lot of cool Houdini pictures.

Instead we have to look at ArchiveGrid to find that the Ransom Center has a Harry Houdini Collection. And in there we see that there are more letters.


Unfortunately for this example, we have leave our hunt here, but I am sure the archivists at the Ransom Center could advise us on what to do next to uncover more about what happened between these two historic men.