Magical Momentos (2:59 min)
Curator: Mark Dimunation
Week of: June 28, 2010
The future "Genius of Escape Who Will Startle and Amaze" ran away from home when he was 12 years old. A postcard from "Your truant son, Ehrich Weiss," to the mother he adored is the earliest example of Harry Houdini's handwriting at the Library of Congress. Houdini was born Ehrich Weisz in Budapest, Hungary, on March 24, 1874. Throughout his life, the man who became the famed Harry Houdini fervently explored the history and practice of the illusion arts. He kept record of his own career with equal passion, and, ever the self-promoter, maintained scrapbooks of all of his promotional advertising, replete with photographs, postcards, posters, playbills and news clippings. He willed his entire collection to the Library of Congress. His autobiographical scrapbooks have posed a serious conservation challenge. His keepsakes were glued to the acidic pages of cheap, store-bought scrapbooks. In order to preserve the items, the items were removed, treated and housed in appropriate archival storage.
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