Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baum Bugle Beginnings

I mentioned a while back that I've managed to get a large amount of old issues of The Baum Bugle. The Bugle's been an integral part of the International Wizard of Oz Club since the beginning. Since the earliest issues are hard to come by but contain some very informative information, the Club reprinted the important parts in collections called The Best of the Baum Bugle.

I have most of the Best of collections (still have yet to get the latest one), my most recent acquisition being the first volume, covering 1957-1961. For covering four years, it's about as thick as a modern issue. (I'm not sure of the criteria of Best of here. All descriptions of the collections seem to indicate that all articles are included, so I assume that only obsolete materials have not been retained.)

While I'd read through a couple collections before, the first volume is eye-opening to the Club's beginnings. This was when organized Oz fandom was just beginning, as well as research. Amusing to me were a couple articles about the discovery of "Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz." Not even Fred Meyer had known about it before the Club began. Considering that you can now get the series in two quality editions, the scanty information supplied feels a little quaint, but it is thanks to this that we have those editions now.

A lot of articles are very short and would never do for a feature article in the modern Bugle, but in that time, when the Bugle was little more than a circular, that's what was available. In this age of sharing information quickly, freely, and publicly in e-mail lists, forums, and blogs, it's a little surprising to remember that we used to rely on "snail mail" for correspondence and information. If you needed to do research, you had quite a chore finding what books you needed and where to find them, or which library's archive you'd need to search.

The articles are varied and go from scholarly, to personal, such as Ruth Plumly Thompson clearing up the rumors of how she took over the Oz series (some rumors persist even today, sadly), or Ruth Berman talking about how she got into Oz. The Club was small, so the Bugle could be a little more personal.

Now that the Club has grown, we seldom see people being so personal in The Baum Bugle. It's not that it's not encouraged (we have forums and blogs for Oz fans to do that now), but it's not published there. Because of the short bits of information in these early Bugles we now have pages. Take the most recent issue: in 1957, Frank Kramer would have had a passing mention as the illustrator of Jack Snow's Oz books. Atticus Gannaway wrote a 10 page article about him!

Seriously, if you want to appreciate how far the Club has come, pick up The Best of the Baum Bugle.

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