Jazz Age Bibliography: 1922-1939

copyright 1999 by Historical Novelists Center

We cannot too strongly recommend that during your second tier of research you just go down to the periodicals section and start reading magazines your characters would read. It will give you the diction and the period attitudes and misinformation. But far more important than many articles are the advertisements! How but in the august pages of a Twenties 'Scientific American' could you learn that there are glow-in-the-dark crucifixes for your vampire hunters to carry?

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Alexander, Edwin P.

American Locomotives: A Pictorial Record of Steam Power, 1900-1950 ****
Bonanza Books, NY, 1950
Clear terse text with photos and line drawings, to let you know what's up front on the trains in the first part of the century. You can't just fake your way through a steam train accident or sabotage based on diesel. T3

American National Red Cross

American Red Cross First Aid Text-Book *****!
The Blakiston Company, Philedelphia, 1940 (1937, 1933)
If someone gets injured, THIS is what a first-aider will do in earlier periods, very different from modern practice. Of course, in those days, someone with a broken leg might be a day or two from help, not just a phone call and rescue-copter ride away, so these extreme-looking measures make more sense when you think of the surrounding technology. Do not apply modern methods of resuscitation in this period. T2

Ball, Edward

Slaves in the Family ***
Ball tracked down the descendents of his ancestors' slaves, and gives a chronicle of the lives they led. An insight into African-American life through ten generations. T2

Beebe, Lucius M.

Mr. Pullman's Elegant Palace Car ***
Doubleday & Co., Garden City, NY, 1961
A wonderful collection of photos, scaled layouts of cars, and reproduction of artwork, with pithy text somewhat allergic to dates. Just dig in: information ranges from the Civil War through the 1950's. T2

Mansions on Rails, The Folklore of the Private Railway Car ***
Similar, detailing the PV, or Private Varnish, with an emphasis on early elegance. T2

Carter, Lin

Lovecraft: A Look Behind The "Cthulhu Mythos" ***
Ballantine Books, NY, 1972
Explores the milieu of 'Weird Tales,' and the writers besides HPL associated with the Mythos.

Chase, Mary Ellen

This England ***
Macmillan, NY, 1936
By interior dating, the author sojourned in Britain about 1930 to 1936. The first three sketches, "The Weather", "English Sources of American Irritation" and "English Manners, Urban and Rural", as well as the later "An English Sunday" and "English Railway Travel" are all valuable windows for the writer, but the other eight are literary evocations of the landscape and people that give very little. T2

Douglas, William O.

Go East, Young Man: The Early Years **
Random House, NY, 1974
This autobiography is interesting for its gallery of photos in the front, and its description of college life in the Hot Jazz Age, NOT a froth of flappers and sheiks. T2

Ehrlich, Blake

London on the Thames ****
Little, Brown and Co., NY, 1966
Each chapter is the city, or the important parts thereof, at a different period. You will want "The London of Winston Churchill", "...Bertie Wooster", and "...The Last Butlers". T2

Epstein, Daniel Mark

Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson ****
One of the first great media personalities, the founder of the Four-Square Gospel Church (still quite active in LA) cannot be ignored once she breaks upon Western conciousness. T3

Farnsworth, Marjorie

The Ziegfield Follies ***
Bonanza Books, NY, 1956
A fascinating exploration of the one-man theatrical phenomenon, who created a lavish theatre tradition still surviving in the Folies Bergere and Las Vegas. A biography that delves deeply into the productions and the players. A list of the Follies from 1907 to '31 with theatre used, opening night, and featured players. Lavish with pictures, the beauties of their days. T3

French Fashion Plates in Full Color from the Gazette du Bon Ton (1912-1925) ****

Dover Publications, NY, 1979
Little text, but 58 illustrations. A nice evolution of the Tango Age to the Hot Jazz Age. T3

Gould, Leslie A.

American Youth Today ***
NY; Random House, 1940
An exoneration of the American Youth Congress via a partisan's history of the organization, anti-discrimination, pro-union, and pacifistic -- in short, pre-War Communist-Socialist. An interesting sidelight on teenagers of the period who were doing more than jitterbugging. Also includes interesting stories most histories let slide -- anti-union vigilantes, racist and fascist demagogues like Father Coughlin, etc.

Hatcher, Julian S., Mjr. Gen. ret.

Hatcher's Notebook ****
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; The Stackpole Company, 1962 (1947)
Having joined the Army in 1905, Gen. Hatcher's long work in the development of government arms makes his "I was there" history of period weapons unparallelled and unbeaten in our researches. Did you know the Army only adopted non-corrosive primers wholesale 3after2 WW II (Ch. XIV)? Crisp, clear, easy-reading reportage from an era before gobbledegook degraded military language.

other books by the same author:

Machine Guns , 1917
Pistols and Revolvers and Their Use , 1927.
Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers , 1935.
Textbook of Firearms Investigation, Identification and Evidence , 1935.

Heiden, Konrad

Der Fuehrer ****
Boston; Houghton Mifflin, 1944 ; translated by Ralph Manheimlm
A biography of Adolf Hitler and his cronies up to the establishment of absolute power in 1934. A fascinating, well-researched history of German politics before and between the World Wars. Punctures the myths both of Hitler's followers and the sometimes rabid tales of his opponents; the consistent, moderate, realistic picture built up is far more frightening because it shows that it did not take a genius, of either divine or demonic inspiration, but only a lucky and determined politician, to rise to incredible power over a country.

Hiscox, Gardner D., M.E., editor

Henley's Formulas for Home and Workshop ****
New York; Crown Publishers; 1907, rev. 1927 (1980)
All those rote formulas for Cosmetics, Perfumes, Beverages, and pyrotechnic parlor tricks, not to mention photographic chemicals, vetrinary treatments you should NOT use on a non-fictional beast, and how much "butter the size of an egg" should be.

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in Over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
Provides personal and family names for almost any ethnic group you care to cover. T1

Jackson, Ronald W.

China Clipper ****
Everest House, 1980.
Wonderful details on early PanAm operations, as well as the creation and fates of these legendary flying boats. Interior photos, shots of the hotels at Wake and Midway, the dock at Honolulu -- wonderful for the Swing Age traveller abroad.

Johnson, Osa H.

I Married Adventure: The Lives and Adventures of Martin and Osa Johnson ****
Garden City, New York; Halcyon House 1940.
Primarily a full biography of photographer Martin Johnson, by his widow. Detail is heavy at the front, lighter as time goes by, but this how one explores the hinterlands of Southeast Asia and Africa. Illustrated with photos from the expeditions. Invaluable for how a safari of the period is set up.

Lane, Rose Wilder, and Boylston, Helen Dorelm

Travels with Zenobia; Paris to Albania by Model T Ford ****
Columbia and London; University of Missouri Press, 1983; edited by William Holtz
Rose Lane edited the journals of her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, into the familiar Little House Books, besides doing her own writing. Helen Boylston wrote the Sue Barton Nurse books, which founded career novels for young people. Their trek with their French maid aboard Zenobia took place in 1926, and is a marvelous glimpse of Europe, and two independent American women.

McKenney, Ruth

My Sister Eileen ****
New York; Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1938.
Humourous autobiographical sketches of growing up female in America, from 1918 through the Swing Age. Includes the young Mr. Randolph Churchill, a refugee Georgian prince studying dairy science, and the Brazilian Navy, besides a bad fright from being taken for spies in Poland.

MontgomeryWard and Company

1922 Montgomery Ward Catalogue *****!
New York; HC Publishers; 1969.
Styles, prices, medicines, food, entertainment, transportation, books -- 670 pages of the real 1920's, not just the high life or the bizarros. A lap-breaker, but very worthwhile. For example, lists four books on fortune-telling and one on jiu jitsu, incense burners, a Ouija board, and lots of other unexpected things that were easily available.

National Geographic, the editors of

The Complete National Geographic; 103 Years of National Geographic Magazine on CD-ROM ****
National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, 1991
Three discs, 1920-1929, will give you an idea of what constituted an adventure in these days. T1

1928 Handy Railroad Atlas of the United States *****

Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kalmbach Publishing, nd
The original Rand McNally copyright on the index page is 1923; the metropolitan maps are from 1937. For most of this century, Characters are more likely to make long trips by train than by auto or plane, and this is the era of the luxury train: The Twentieth Century, The Broadway Limited, the Sunset Limited, etc. A must-have. Look or ask for it at railroad hobby shops.

Nock, O. S., editor

Encyclopedia of Railroads ****
London; Octopus Books, Ltd, 1977;New York; Galahad Books, 1977
History of railroads and equipment over the entire world, including Africa, Asia, and South America. Sections on equipment and operation, also the great luxury trains, past and present. Gorgeous colour layout, oversize and 480 pages. One lap-breaker worth the effort of lifting.

Paine, Robert

The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi ****
Konechy and Konecky
One of the most influential figures of the twentieth century and beyond, he was so famous in this time that any audience was expected to recognize a figure dressed like him in a musical review. T2

Perret, Geoffrey

Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur ****
The great figures of WW2 were living and working their ways up in this period. A good view of a military officer who married ultra-wealth. T3

Post, Emily

Etiquette *****
New York; Funk & Wagnalls, 1922, 1927 (42 chapters), 1931 (1 chapter) and 1934 (no notable changes)
>For those in the high life, or trying to emulate it. Incredibly picky about vocabulary, etc., but that is how one tells the Ins from the Outs. Valuable chapters on wardrobe and dress, entertainments acceptable to Society, country visits, and child-rearing (besides what the nanny does).

Simonds, Frank H., Litt.D., and Emeny, Brooks, PhD

The Great Powers in World Politics: International Relations and Economic Nationalism ***
NY, et al; American Book Company, 1939.
Originally published in 1935 and revised in 1937; with the precipitation of events into war in 1939 several chapters were continued in the back. Good for the chronology, and the maps of the Great Powers before WWI and during the interregnum, also for its view of WWI, the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles. Takes the stand that a Great Power like Germany or Japan has the right to control or to own necessary resources of material and energy, condoning a political and if necessary military rather then an economic solution. Combined with their not-too-grudging admiration of Hitler's handling of politics and aggression, this reads like undercover Geopolitik, and is actually a subtle pro-fascist text.

Skinner, Cornelia Otis, and Kimbrough, Emily

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay **
NY; Dodd Mead & Company, 1942.
Though coyly refusing to date events, Ms. Skinner's biography lists her as born in 1901, which places these tales of her 19th year in 1920. An Atlantic crossing complete with sinking (the best part), and screwball adventures in England and France, including playing The Game (neither charades nor Little Wars) with H. G. Wells.

Stein, Charles W., editor and commentator

American Vaudeville As seen By Its Contemporaries ****
NY; Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.
A wonderful gleaning of articles, including the 1922 economics of running a vaudeville theatre. To understand the equivalent of television for its day is necessary for Chronicles from the 1890's to the Swing Age.

Terry, T. Philip

Terry's Guide to the Japanese Empire, including Chosen (Korea) and Taiwan (Formosa), with chapters on Manchuria, the Trans-Siberian Railway, and the chief Ocean Routes to Japan ****
Boston and New York; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1933.
"1080 pages, 8 maps, 21 plans ... notes on Geography, Language, Literature, History, Architecture, Art, the People and their Homes, Crafts, Customs, Sports and Religions, the Imperial Family, and the Government and its Functions, ... How to Reach Japan, Travelling Expenses, Money, Guides, Seasons, Climate, Hotels and Inns, Food, Tips, Plan of Tour Health, What to Wear, Photography, Hunting and Fishing, Automobiling, Mt. Climbing, Shops, Curios," et cetera! A complete treasure. Terry also wrote, by this date, a Guide to Cuba and one to Mexico. Such compendious period guidebooks are a Storyleader's instant Time Ticket. Earlier editions came out in 1914, 1920, and 1928.

Time-Life Books, the editors of

This Fabulous Century: Sixty Years of American Life **
New York; Time-Life Books, 1969.
v.3 1920-19309, v.4 1930-1940 Fashions, fads, infamies, in crisp original photographs, and reproductions of ads and newspapers of the times. However, the text has consistently shown glaring errors of fact and date. Obviously, volumes 7 and 8 were added after it was subtitled. Good for pictures, but bad for information.

Trzebinski, Errol

The Lives of Beryl Markham ***
Biography of the famed aviator, raised in Africa. Gives some extra dimensions when read after her own view of her life. T3

Vanderveen, Bart H., editor; compiled by the Olyslager Organization

British Cars of the Late Thirties ***
British Cars seriesLondon and New York; Frederick Warne and Company, 1973-1974.
Lots of pictures, the text being large captions. Not all information on all styles, but a good reference for motor choices in Britain.

Ventry, Arthur F. D. E., Baron, and Koesnik, Eugene M.

Airship Saga: the history of airships, etc. ****
New York; Blandford Press, 1982.
A fine exploration of the development of commercial and naval dirigibles, which were only ever successfully done by the Germans, with their implied end through anti-Nazism and the necessity of other countries building large airplanes instead. Points out how most accidents were the result of improper use and lack of maintenance, and how very few people were hurt in the Hindenburg "disaster."

Von Braun, Wernher, and Ordway, Frederick I., III

History of Rocketry and Space Travel ***
New York; Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1966.
Excellent for the early history of rocketry, which with your Characters may be involved.

Wall, Robert

Airliners ****
Seacaucus, NJ; Chartwell Books, 1980.
From the earliest to the Concord, and into speculation, this big picture-heavy book gives a thorough and unusual coverage, including a fine chapter on the lighter-than-air airliners like 3Graf Zeppelin2. Lots of period cutaways showing interior layouts, and interior shots, many with passengers in real-life clothes. Also airports, menues, stamps, "the front office", and travel posters.


Big Band Jazz, from the Beginnings to the Fifties ***
1983; Smithsonian Institution; LP/Ca/CD
Part of the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, very little is available on cassette, and less on CD. The government is always technologically conservative. Virtually all cuts are instrumental, chosen for their retroactive artistic merit rather than by popularity. There are cuts from bands you wouldn't hear otherwise, and rarely heard at the time, some of which are superb. Arranged by band, then by chronology, it jumps around some, but can you hear the break in 1945-6, except for a few pioneers that were playing with the Cool Jazz sound earlier. The award-winning liner notes are comprehensive, but written by men who move easily between jazz and classical works, i.e. hideously boring discussions of musical structure, and a piece's "chamber-ensemble subtlety" with aphoristic chords that move into musical infinity. It safely embalms the subject for those who feel art is for an educated (in the subject) elite, and that anything being merely popular, that can be appreciated without study or intellectual dissection, is suspect and shoddy. I dislike this "music for musicians" attitude the way I despise "art for art's sake". I'm a savage; if music doesn't make me want to dance or sing along, I'm not interested.

Bing Crosby the Crooner; the Columbia Years 1928-1934 ****
1988; CBS Records; LP/Ca/CD
Michael Brooks deserves the Grammy he won for his liner notes, entertaining as well as informative (and occasionally sublime). The 65 cuts includes many rarities that were not released at the time, or a slightly different version than the cut released.

Down Memory Lane -- the Golden Twenties *
1990; Reader's Digest; LP/Ca/CD
An anthology of songs from the Twenties, but most of them are done either Cool Jazz or Muzak versions. I had a hard time finding a dozen cuts worth listening to out of 82. Pretty good liner notes, though. Best for a collection of Cool Jazz sounds! However, buying it seems to be the only way to get the accompanying "Rhapsody in Blue" album (qv).

Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra: The Victor Masters, Featuring Bing Crosby ***
1989; BMG Music, New York; CD
The 13 from 1927 and 1928 do largely feature Der Bingle; but bands 14-20 are from 1932, with a few from '34 and '35 without him. Band 4 has piano and vocal by Hoagy Carmichael, #16 and #20 Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer, as well as others. The jump does let you see the evolution of Hot Jazz towards Swing.

Rhapsody in Blue. *****!
1989; Reader's Digest; LP/Ca/CD
A CD of ten cuts of Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. The title cut is over nine minutes long, and features George Gershwin on piano. "Old Man River" has the Rhythm Boys featuring Bing Crosby for vocals.

Thanks for the Memories **
Reader's Digest 1988; Reader's Digest; LP/Ca/CD
Tunes first popular in the Thirties, but most of the cuts on these four CD's are too modern and moderately dreadful. The best cuts are by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. The Fireside Singers are, as usual, either drivelly lyrical or so cutesy you could t'row up. The booklet of liner notes is its chief redeeming feature, though the instrumental cuts are fine if you are imagining a non-star band at your local dining and dancing spot.

Tommy Dorsey: Radio Days Volume One; Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra ****
1989; Star Line Productions, Inc.; CDPO Box 1571, Glendale, CA 91209
Transcriptions from 1936 and 1937 radio shows which would greatly benefit from remastering and remixing to even out the sound quality -- though this way it sounds like you're hearing it over a period radio! Valuable early Swing. Vocals by Edythe Wright and/or the Three Esquires. Short liner notes.

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