Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Status Report

It has, admittedly, been some time since my last post. Some life events transpired and put thesaurus work on hold. (To wit, losing a parent, having two children, and purchasing a historic home which "necessitated" digitizing over 33,00 pages of Anaheim newspapers from microfilm, in the process learning that somebody already in my thesaurus got married in my house in the 1920s.)

I recently resumed work on the thesaurus and, while recognizing the daunting task of wanting to enter every piece of information about everything related to the Disneyland Resort, was impressed at the progress I had made over the course of the previous ten years. (The thesaurus itself turned ten on August 19 of this year.) As I work through sources, it's interesting to see a "mosaic effect" emerge for Cast Members in particular. You can check the sidebar for the latest statistics.

I felt this would be a good time to provide an update on the sources used to date. The project's origins can be traced to my receiving a cache of the weekly employee publication the Disneyland Line almost exactly twenty years ago. These issues contained details I had never seen before and doubtless were recorded nowhere else. I knew when I was a teenager that a complete history of Disneyland would need to begin with assembling a library of these. I didn't have any idea then how that might be accomplished, but through connections and persistence have put together a valuable digital library.

It is through this source that I have spent the most time. As of today, I have meticulously combed through 516 Disneyland Line publications—over 4,800 pages. That's approximately 20% of all the Lines published. My collection from 1969 and 1970 is only about 50% complete, but I have thesaurused those I do have and beginning in 1971 completed everything through November 3, 1977, as well as many later ones. These have contributed information to over 24,000 fields in the thesaurus.

There are other Cast Member publications on which I've made significant progress. The Disneylander, the first publication, has contributed to 8,399 fields. I have gone through every issue of this I know to exist (there might be a few issues still outstanding). I have gone through every issue of the University of Disneyland Newsletter/Inside Disneyland, a monthly publication that picked up several years after the Disneylander and overlapped a few years with the Disneyland Line. These have contributed to over 4,000 terms. These publications were over 750 pages.

Backstage Disneyland, a dense Cast Member publication from Winter 1962 to Summer 1980, is mostly unexplored. The eight issues (out of 36) I have thesaurused have contributed to 3,090 fields. I still have 650 pages to get through with this publication.

I have gone through every issue of The Disneyland News from July 1955 through October 1956. These 252 pages have yielded an amazing amount of information and terms from the earliest period of Disneyland's history; I still have another 100 pages to thesaurus.

A smattering of Disney News/Disney Magazine (9 issues) and Disneyland Holiday/Vacationland (16 issues) have been entered.

I have only fully thesaurused a few books, but they are important. Disneyland: The Nickel Tour (2000) was the first, along with Disney A-Z (2006). I am working through the 2016 edition of Disney A-Z, this time entering the full volume to capture the peripheral Disney connections.

There will be more updates to come as I continue to build a completely unique resource for Disneyland historical research.


Major Pepperidge said...

Congratulations on this amazing milestone; I can't imagine the diligence and organization that all of your efforts have required. When I think of the many thousands of Disneyland cast members that have come and gone over the decades, and how any records of them have probably been lost, it seems that your work will have real value.

Thank you for explaining your use of the term "thesaurus", which I admit had always puzzled me!

Very cool that you appeared in a Disneyland Line, even at the age of 5. Most of us will never achieve that at any age! I'd like to believe that your name will show up in a future issue. I see Charles and Marcie too!

One thing that I am not entirely clear on (and maybe this is my own lack of comprehension)... will your compendium be available to scholars and researchers in some repository at some point?

Jason Schultz said...

Thank you, Major! It's been nearly ten years since you were the 12th person to have a thesaurus showing. As you can imagine, it's grown a bit since then.

I probably already blogged about how, when I began the project, I was forced to confront the question of relevance, and what would rise to the significance of being entered as a term in the thesaurus. I figured that there had been so many Cast Members through the years that it would be like spitting in the wind to record information about all of them. However, I am absolutely certain I made the decision to record information about every one I came across. I can't currently query to see how many Cast Members have more than one reference, but I'm confident it's well more than half. Many have numerous references—particularly those who worked there for many years.

It's a fair question as to the ultimate aim of all this work. I've been brainstorming about that recently, but don't have thoughts to share at this point. The database that's available to me includes all sorts of copyrighted text and I would only see that (eventually) being available through an archive.