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Biography today

I'm having trouble sleeping, so I might as well blog about my day's work on the biography.

I coded a few documents, but my primary task was to go over the folder of newspaper clippings Isaac had on the February 26, 1979 total eclipse of the sun. What made that eclipse special is its path intersected the location of the Stonehenge replica near Maryhill, Washington. A great gathering of pagans took place, to create a spiritual intersection at the same time as the astronomical one.

Oberon Zell-Ravenheart described the event to me when I interviewed him, and I believe he's going to describe it further in his memoirs. He told me Isaac was there, and the cover of the first edition of Drawing Down the Moon had a picture of the event... with Isaac's face obscured by his staff.

It wasn't until I saw the newspaper clippings last week that I understood that Isaac was not merely a participant in the ritual. He and Morning Glory led the ritual, or at least a portion of it. The newspapers carried a few pictures that showed them standing next to each other (more focused on the hot chick than the druid geek), arms upraised and invoking. The next time I interview Morning Glory, I'm going to ask her the dumbest question she's ever been asked: "Do you remember what you and Isaac said during the eclipse ritual?" It was only 33 years ago, and she's done hundreds of rituals; I'm sure she'll remember word-for-word.

There are three pictures of Isaac at that ritual that I'd like to include in the book. The first was published in The Oregonian. I went to their web site, spent the $9.95 for 24-hour access to their archives, and found the exact issue issue and page number that corresponded to the clipping Isaac saved. (Isaac's saved clipping was in much better condition than the PDF on the web site!)

Hunting a bit more on the web site, it turned out that permission to use the photograph for anything other than personal use had to be obtained through the site that kept the archive: newsbank.com. I wrote them an e-mail, asking how much it would cost to use the picture in the biography, what were the legal issues, and whether the original would still be available somewhere.

The next picture I wanted to use appeared in the Oregon Journal. A web search revealed that that newspaper no longer existed, because it had been sold to... The Oregonian. There aren't separate archives for the Oregon Journal, but I assumed that newsbank.com handled their archive/legal issues as well. I wrote a follow-up to the e-mail, asking them what the cost would be for the second picture.

The third picture I wanted to use appeared in the Seattle Times. I looked through their web site, and discovered that their archives and legal permissions are handled through (can you guess?) newsbank.com. I wrote a third e-mail, probably confusing one of their poor clerks.

With that done, I thought about other pictures of Isaac I wanted to use from his days at Berkeley in the early 70s. I decided to look through the scans I'd done of his newspaper clippings, just in case any of them had appeared in another newspaper represented by newsbank.com.

None of them were, unfortunately. It's unfortunate, because from the web sites I'm not sure who the legal representatives are. One is a UPI photo, but the UPI photo archives don't go that far back, and there's no contact link for legal representation on the UPI site. Others were published in the Berkeley Gazette and St. Paul Dispatch, neither of which exist anymore. This doesn't mean I'll never be able to track down the legal representatives, but it's going to be a lot more work.

There are even a couple of clippings with no newspaper name nor legal information next to the photograph; I have no idea how I'm going to proceed with those.

At least this is only a problem for the "newsworthy" Isaac pictures. I have plenty of other photographs of Isaac, and they're all personal photos so the only one I'll have to ask is Phaedra.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
catbirdgirl
Jan. 8th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
were you ever able to connect with my friend about the Frosts?
wgseligman
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
I connected with her, but I haven't heard from the Frosts yet. I left it up to her to judge when would be a good time to contact them.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )