Theatre Catalogs WANTED for Archiving Project

posted by driveinguy on October 20, 2004 at 8:57 am

The Drive-In Exchange, Ltd. is preparing to archive all of the “Theatre Catalogs” that were released by Jay Emanuel Publishing starting from their pre-Theatre Catalog of 1939 through the 1970 Theatre Catalog edition of The Motion Picture Exhibitor.

Our purpose is to make the articles, advertisements and features of each individual volume available to everyone in a digital PDF format. Our search for these catalogs over the past 10 years has enabled us to find most of the rare volumes. The volumes that we are currently in need of are the 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1968 editions.

If anyone out there would like to either sell or donate any of these volumes to use for these archival purposes, we will send you the Theatre Catalog Digital collection (probably on DVD volumes) when they become available for free.

Please contact us ASAP if you can. Thank you.

Comments (11)

William on October 20, 2004 at 2:50 pm

The “Theatre Catalogs” that Jay Emanuel Publishing released are very rare books. Last week a 1970’s edition started at $10.00 and finished at $204.00 on eBay. And a few other editions went for between $100-$250 dollars recently. I have over 12 editions of the catalogs and they are very hard to replace.

driveinguy on October 20, 2004 at 9:52 pm

Thanks William,

I completely understand the value of the Theatre Catalogs. We have been collecting them for a number of years and have paid good prices for the editions we have. I personally treasure them also and, as mentioned, have every edition except for the ones we posted that we need. While donations for this project or welcome, we always considered purchasing them from the seller. We are in particular need of the 1959 edition and we would welcome any reasonable sales offer for that edition. Our project will begin with the early volumes, starting with the rare 1939 pre-Theatre Catalog. Depending on if we run into any problems, we hope to start releasing PDF editions on DVD in the Spring of 2005.

JimRankin on October 21, 2004 at 11:26 am

It is possible that the Archive of the Theatre Historical Soc. of America in Elmhurst Illinois outside of Chicago has a number of these, and you might be able to make arrangements to copy theirs via a camera set up at their headquarters by prior arrangement. Go to their web site: and send their Ex. Director an E-mail about your wishes. They may be willing to assist you in advertising the availability of the DVDs in their Newsletter or MARQUEE magazine. Best Wishes in your quest.

JimRankin on October 21, 2004 at 11:30 am

Also, have you contacted any large libraries? Many libraries have collections of ‘Trade catalogs’ and the Theatre Catalog may be among them. It may also be filed as a magazine or book, in which case it is cataloged and most all libraries' catalogs can be searched via the OCLC on-line index through a librarian at your local library. Also, the Library Of Congress in Washington,D.C. has a huge collection of such catalogs, but most of them are not cataloged due to lack of personnel and funds, but it may be possible that they will grant you a Researcher’s Pass to go the locked storage of these to see what is there. You will have to ask about their copying policy.

driveinguy on October 21, 2004 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Jim, I will looking into your recommendations.

I am a member of The Library of Congress. I did research there a few years ago and they really are not set up to do the kind of work I will be doing. They frown on using their books on copiers because it creates stress and damages the bindings. Plus, this would create 2nd generation files which I do not want to have. I plan on using a book scanner designed for this purpose which will directly transfer the scan through OCR software. Thank you for your help and encouragement Jim!

JimRankin on October 22, 2004 at 12:31 am

It was the scanner or photographic table tripod methods that I was thinking of. When I mentioned their copying policy, I was referring to your legal right to copy via any method their materials, and that you would have to work out with them. Possibly, if you had a written agreement to give them a set of your resulting DVDs or CDs, they might consider them sufficient payment for the risk to their materials. If you view the video “Slow Fires” about the disintegration of paper there, they may agree to sacrifice catalogs for your more permanent digital form. Same goes for THSA. Best Wishes.

Gooper on October 23, 2005 at 6:10 pm

Any updates on the DVD of the Jay Emanuel Exhibitor Catalogues?

Gooper on October 5, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Again, any progress on this project?

driveinguy on January 4, 2007 at 1:02 pm

I know that this project is progressing much slower than anticipated but plans are beginning to pan out and we hope to begin releasing the Theatre Catalogs on DVD sometime in the Spring of 2007. As of now, we have all Theatre Catalogs from 1940 – 1970. We finally found a local archival company who will do the scanning for us. We hope to release the first 3 volumes: 1938’s New Theatres (the official pre-Theatre Catalog), The New Theatre’s Exhibitor Catalog of 1940 (the official 1st Volume), and The 1941 Theatre Catalog (the official 2nd Volume). Each DVD volume will be in it’s own DVD case (with a jacket that will make it resemble the Theatre Catalog it features) along with complete search capabilities by subject, advertiser, and theatre. The volumes will be in PDF format but we plan for the pages to be easy to read at a definition that will allow complete zoom capabilities. Projected price for each volume will be around $19.95. I will give more details as the project moves along. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Mark Bialek
The Drive-In Exchange, Ltd.

Gooper on January 4, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for the update, Mark. The project sounds very exciting. I have the 1940 volume (complete with attached color postcard of exit signs and other fixtures, plus the clippings envelope at the rear), so I’m very interested to see what the other volumes reveal. High resolution scans will be very welcome. Look forward to it.

Historic Theatres in Tampa
Historic Theatres in Tampa on September 1, 2008 at 11:51 am

Hi Mark!
Are any of the DVDs available for sale yet?

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment