New Index for Yumpu’s Boxoffice issues

I just posted an index to all of the Boxoffice magazines hosted at Yumpu.com. To start with, it’s only the issues from 1948 through 1965, the era with the most drive-in theater news. Let me tell you why this index is important.

The cover of the Jan. 3, 1948 issue of Boxoffice, available on Yumpu

By the way, hi there! How are you? I’ve been pretty good considering (waving arm at the world). My focus for over a year has been a big project that I’ll talk about very soon, but it’s not this one. Anyway…

Once upon a time, the generous folks at Boxoffice magazine hosted its own archive of back issues, called the Vault, freely available for any internet user to read. (You can see what it used to look like in this Internet Archive capture.) Boxoffice was always the gold standard of movie theater news. It published several regional editions, presumably because a theater owner in Miami didn’t care what was going on in Seattle and vice versa. The gold standard of the gold standard was the National Executive Edition, published for the movie executive who wanted to read about every region’s news. The Vault was full of these NEE versions.

At about the same time, Yumpu also began hosting quite a few of these Boxoffice NEE issues, apparently provided by the same generous magazine workers. Yumpu is an amazing Swiss site with zillions of magazines, but I’ve never been able to find much organization there. Looking for a particular issue feels like rummaging through a deep bin of random magazines at a charity sale, and even Google searches are hit and miss.

About a year ago, the Boxoffice archive went offline. When I asked about it, I got a very friendly reply indicating that the company had an issue with the archive’s host, and it was too busy surviving during the pandemic to spare a lot of resources to restore the archive elsewhere. (I suggested that the Internet Archive would love to share that content with the world, but maybe the company wanted to keep control of its back issues.) Sure enough, as theaters slowly return to full speed, the Vault is still gone.

In the absence of that archive, I turned again to Yumpu’s Boxoffice holdings, of which the University of Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page wrote, “it can be difficult to find a specific issue, and there may be coverage gaps.” So I rolled up my sleeves and began clicking through thousands of issues, storing the link to each one. Some were mislabeled, all were out of order, but none of that mattered. I kept a list by date, adding those links.

The result is an unofficial, probably incomplete index of every Boxoffice issue available on Yumpu. I was surprised at the high percentage that’s available, probably 75% or so if you don’t count 1961, which is completely missing. I compiled the whole thing mainly for myself, because it’s such a great tool for drive-in theater history research, but I’m happy to share it with you. Enjoy!

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