After I put Drive-Ins of New Mexico to bed (mostly) last week, I had the rare opportunity to visit one of the best sources for my research. The Internet Archive is accessible through the internet from anywhere, but to tour the physical plant, you need to be in the right place on a Friday afternoon.
The Archive, perhaps best known for the Wayback Machine of preserved web pages, also hosts the Media History Digital Library for the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research. That’s a huge resource for drive-in theater history, especially up to 1955 or so.
And that’s not all. Browsing around a couple of years ago, I found a collection of Motion Picture Heralds from 1950 to 1954. Another section includes bound copies of California Highways and Public Works, another 1950s publication full of aerial photos in the public domain. There are probably more research resources that I haven’t discovered yet.
Then there’s the content. There’s a section of Drive-In Movie Ads to use for your own intermission trailers. There are thousands of Feature Films to put together your own double features around the intemissions. Or if you want someone else to do all that for you, there’s a series of prepackaged Shocker Internet Drive-Ins.
If you want something that’s not drive-in related, the Archive has over two million books available. For music, you can choose from over 100,000 LPs. And then there’s the collection that I think is founder Brewster Kahle’s favorite: over 400,000 78 rpm and cylinder records.
Really, I’ve just scratched the surface in this post. Go wander around the Archive the way you would any other extensive library. I’m sure that you’ll find something you didn’t expect, and something that you’ll love.