Hot Jazz Age Bibliography: 1922-1933

copyright 1999 by Historical Novelists Center

We cannot too strongly recommend that during your second tier of research you just go down to the periodicals section and start reading magazines your characters would read. It will give you the diction and the period attitudes and misinformation. But far more important than many articles are the advertisements! Where but in the august pages of a Twenties Scientific American could you learn that there are glow-in-the-dark crucifixes for your vampire hunters to carry? The periodicals are there, and revealing of real life, unlike, say, a hundred years earlier. To help you find period books, we have added a Sources Page, same as the Middle Ages or Classical World.

Also, be sure to check the Gilded Age Bibliography. Characters who are adults in the 1920s will have been teenagers in the Teens and before. They grew up in a different world, just like adults of 2010 may have grown up in very different decades, from '90s grungers and '80s headbangers back to old hippies and freaks of the 1960s.


A History of Medicine ***
1945 Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd;. London, Edinburgh, Paris, Melbourne, New York
This covers from ancient Greece to 1940

Alexander, Edwin P.

American Locomotives: A Pictorial Record of Steam Power, 1900-1950 ****
Bonanza Books, NY, 1950
Clear terse text with photos and line drawings, to let you know what's up front on the trains in the first part of the century. You can't just fake your way through a steam train accident or sabotage by basing it on diesel. T3

Ball, Edward

Slaves in the Family ***
Ball tracked down the descendents of his ancestors' slaves, and gives a chronicle of the lives they led. An insight into African-American life through ten generations. T2

Beebe, Lucius M.

Mr. Pullman's Elegant Palace Car ***
Doubleday & Co., Garden City, NY, 1961
A wonderful collection of photos, scaled layouts of cars, and reproduction of artwork, with pithy text somewhat allergic to dates. Just dig in: information ranges from the Civil War through the 1950's. T2

Mansions on Rails, The Folklore of the Private Railway Car ***
Similar, detailing the PV, or Private Varnish, with an emphasis on early elegance. T2

Boardman, Barrington

Flappers, Bootleggers, "Typhoid Mary" & The Bomb: An Anecdotal History of the United States from 1923-1945 ****
Harper and Row, NY, 1988; 319 pg, index
"History by flashes of lightning" Asimov called this. Despite the title, there is quite a bit about the War in Europe, including an especially revealing detailed report of Hitler's publicly changing position towards the USSR. T3

Carter, Lin

Lovecraft: A Look Behind The "Cthulhu Mythos" ***
Ballantine Books, NY, 1972
Explores the milieu of 'Weird Tales,' and the writers besides HPL associated with the Mythos.

Chapman, Charles Frederic

Piloting, Seamanship, and Small Boat Handling ****
Motor Boating, NY, 1922, rev. periodically; 688 pg, index
Rules of the Road, weather signs, navigation, marlinspike seamanship, social etiquette, flags and signalling: just about everything! Gospel. Often known simply as "Chapman." Look for a vintage copy for your year if you need this. They usually go cheap because they can't be used by modern boaters. T3

Donhoff, Marion, countess

Before the Storm; Memories of My Youth in Old Prussia ****
trans. by Jean Steinberg
East Prussia from the Great War throught the end of the next, in a personal view. Her escape from the Soviets on horseback through the streams of other refugees is a scene rarely described. T3

Douglas, William O.

Go East, Young Man: The Early Years **
Random House, NY, 1974
This autobiography is interesting for its gallery of photos in the front, and its description of college life in the Hot Jazz Age, NOT a froth of flappers and sheiks. T2

Ehrlich, Blake

London on the Thames ****
Little, Brown and Co., NY, 1966
Each chapter is the city, or the important parts thereof, at a different period. You will want "The London of Winston Churchill", "...Bertie Wooster", and "...The Last Butlers". T2

Epstein, Daniel Mark

Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson ****
One of the first great media personalities, the founder of the Four-Square Gospel Church (still quite active in LA) cannot be ignored once she breaks upon Western conciousness, nor when her career self-destructed in scandal. T3

Farnsworth, Marjorie

The Ziegfield Follies ***
Bonanza Books, NY, 1956
A fascinating exploration of the one-man theatrical phenomenon, who created a lavish theatre tradition still surviving in the Folies Bergere and Las Vegas. A biography that delves deeply into the productions and the players. A list of the Follies from 1907 to '31 with theatre used, opening night, and featured players. Lavish with pictures, the beauties of their days. T3

French Fashion Plates in Full Color from the Gazette du Bon Ton (1912-1925) ****

Dover Publications, NY, 1979
Little text, but 58 illustrations. A nice evolution of the Tango Age to the Hot Jazz Age. T3

Hatcher, Julian S., Mjr. Gen. ret.

Hatcher's Notebook ****
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; The Stackpole Company, 1962 (1947)
Having joined the Army in 1905, Gen. Hatcher's long work in the development of government arms makes his "I was there" history of period weapons unparallelled and unbeaten in our researches. Did you know the Army only adopted non-corrosive primers wholesale after WW II (Ch. XIV)? Crisp, clear, easy-reading reportage from an era before gobbledegook degraded military language.

other books by the same author:

Machine Guns , 1917
Pistols and Revolvers and Their Use , 1927.
Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers , 1935.
Textbook of Firearms Investigation, Identification and Evidence , 1935.

Heiden, Konrad

Der Fuehrer ****
Boston; Houghton Mifflin, 1944 ; translated by Ralph Manheimlm
A biography of Adolf Hitler and his cronies up to the establishment of absolute power in 1934. A fascinating, well-researched history of German politics before and between the World Wars. Punctures the myths both of Hitler's followers and the sometimes rabid tales of his opponents; the consistent, moderate, realistic picture built up is far more frightening because it shows that it did not take a genius, of either divine or demonic inspiration, but only a lucky and determined politician, to rise to incredible power over a country.

Hibbert, Christopher

London, the Biography of a City ***
William Morrow & Co., Inc., NY, 1969
Runs it all down through time, with good coverage of this period.

Hingley, Ronald

Russian Secret Police: Muscovite, Imperial Russian and Soviet Political Security Operations ****
Dorset Press, NY, 1970; 313 pgs, index, bibliography
The one chapter for this period is highly revealing of the control of Beria and the secret police of the time (they change initials all the time so that the bosses can claim 'no such thing exists' except in anti-Soviet propaganda), who virtually controlled the army. T2

Inglis, Brian

Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind ****
Paladin/Grafton Books, London, 1990
A history of animal magnetism, mesmerism, hypnotism, and related phenomena, especially the parts that do not fit materialist scientism. Details the researchers and their studies through this century. T3

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
Provides personal and family names for almost any ethnic group you care to cover. T1

Jackson, Ronald W.

China Clipper ****
Everest House, 1980.
Wonderful details on early PanAm operations, as well as the creation and fates of these legendary flying boats. Interior photos, shots of the hotels at Wake and Midway, the dock at Honolulu -- wonderful for the Swing Age traveller abroad.

Nock, O. S., editor

Encyclopedia of Railroads ****
London; Octopus Books, Ltd, 1977;New York; Galahad Books, 1977
History of railroads and equipment over the entire world, including Africa, Asia, and South America. Sections on equipment and operation, also the great luxury trains, past and present. Gorgeous colour layout, oversize and 480 pages. One lap-breaker worth the effort of lifting.

Paine, Robert

The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi ****
Konechy and Konecky
One of the most influential figures of the twentieth century and beyond, he was so famous in this time that any audience was expected to recognize a figure dressed like him in a musical review ("Forty-second Street"). T2

Perret, Geoffrey

Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur ****
The great figures of WW2 were living and working their ways up in this period. A good view of a military officer who married ultra-wealth. T3

Rowland, K. T.

Steam at Sea: a History of Steam Navigation ***
Praeger, NY, 1970
Interesting in that it deals with freighters as well as top passenger liners, and takes you down to the engine rooms. T3

Skinner, Cornelia Otis, and Kimbrough, Emily

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay **
NY; Dodd Mead & Company, 1942.
Though coyly refusing to date events, Ms. Skinner's biography lists her as born in 1901, which places these tales of her 19th year in 1920. An Atlantic crossing complete with sinking (the best part), and screwball adventures in England and France, including playing The Game (neither charades nor Little Wars) with H. G. Wells.

Stein, Charles W., editor and commentator

American Vaudeville As seen By Its Contemporaries ****
NY; Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.
A wonderful gleaning of articles, including the 1922 economics of running a vaudeville theatre. To understand the equivalent of television for its day is necessary for Chronicles from the 1890's to the Swing Age.

Time-Life Books, the editors of

This Fabulous Century: Sixty Years of American Life **
New York; Time-Life Books, 1969.
v.3 1920-1929, v.4 1930-1940 Fashions, fads, infamies, in crisp original photographs, and reproductions of ads and newspapers of the times. However, the text has consistently shown glaring errors of fact and date. Obviously, volumes 7 and 8 were added after it was subtitled. Good for pictures, but bad for information.

Trzebinski, Errol

The Lives of Beryl Markham ***
Biography of the famed aviator, raised in Africa. Gives some extra dimensions when read after her own view of her life. T3

Vanderveen, Bart H., editor; compiled by the Olyslager Organization

British Cars of the Late Thirties ***
British Cars seriesLondon and New York; Frederick Warne and Company, 1973-1974.
Lots of pictures, the text being large captions. Not all information on all styles, but a good reference for motor choices in Britain.

Ventry, Arthur F. D. E., Baron, and Koesnik, Eugene M.

Airship Saga: the history of airships, etc. ****
New York; Blandford Press, 1982.
A fine exploration of the development of commercial and naval dirigibles, which were only ever successfully done by the Germans, with their implied end through anti-Nazism and the necessity of other countries building large airplanes instead. Points out how most accidents were the result of improper use and lack of maintenance, and how very few people were hurt in the Hindenburg "disaster."

Von Braun, Wernher, and Ordway, Frederick I., III

History of Rocketry and Space Travel ***
New York; Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1966.
Excellent for the early history of rocketry, which with your Characters may be involved. T1

Wall, Robert

Airliners ****
Seacaucus, NJ; Chartwell Books, 1980.
From the earliest to the Concord, and into speculation, this big picture-heavy book gives a thorough and unusual coverage, including a fine chapter on the lighter-than-air airliners like Graf Zeppelin. Lots of period cutaways showing interior layouts, and interior shots, many with passengers in real-life clothes. Also airports, menues, stamps, "the front office", and travel posters.



Let's start with the free 1920s music at Internet Archive. Most of it sounds like it's being played on a 78 rpm record that's seen some wear. This is normal, even in radio play, so consider it atmospheric. You learn to tune it out, or listen through it, pretty quickly. They're available in VBR, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis.

Complete Collection of Bebe Daniels Vocal Recordings for 1925-1935: A high-pitched soprano doing her Broadway hits. All four of them.

Complete Collection of Russ Columbo Vocal Recordings 1928-1934: Columbo was the last of the trio of great crooners, Vallée, Crosby, and Columbo. His voice is rather thick and woolly in all the recordings. However, with his background as a violinist, he had the musical wherewithal to write some of his songs, putting him among the singer-songwriters. His career was cut short by a cap and ball target pistol being waved around.

Complete Collection of Helen Morgan Vocal Recordings 1927-1935: If you don't know this quavery soprano's name, you haven't started your research. Helen Morgan was the original torch singer, who made the mistake of living out a torch song of bad men and broken hearts, and far too much liquor.

Rudy Wiedoeft Collection 1921-1926: This early sax master was such an influence on Herbert Vallée that his friends nicknamed him Rudy Vallée.

Complete Collection of Sophie Tucker Electrical Recordings for 1925-1934: If Helen Morgan personified the fragile dependent woman, Sophie Tucker was the original embodiment of the independent and uninhibited "big momma." Much of her stuff is Not Suitable for Work though R-rated! But she made a hit of the sentimental "My Yiddish Momma," in English and in Yiddish here.

Helen Kane Collection 1928-1930 (Complete) The baby-voiced original for Betty Boop

Hit of the Week Collection 1930-1932 (Complete): This was a series of singles to which one subscribed or bought at the news stand, like a weekly magazine, which is invaluable to us for giving such a broad range of popular songs by so many artists.

Paul Whiteman

"The Prince of Whales," was one of the major factors in popularizing the jazz-like sound outside of a minority audience.

Paul Whiteman 1920-1935 Collection Part One

Paul Whiteman 1920-1935 Collection Part Two

Rudy Vallée:

The man was ubiquitous, the first multi-media superstar, a workaholic happy to turn out multiple live shows, radio shows, and recordings in any week, besides the occasional movie. So there's a lot of material to collect. He was also rated Condemned by the (Catholic) Legion of Decency because of the occasional risqué song like "Outside" or "You'll Do It Someday (So Why Not Now)." He has fun, obviously, and if his early tenor voice is the weakest of the three crooners, he has the finest delivery, never descending into operatic excesses of emoting while still imbuing them with genuine emotion. He makes a sad song sad, not tearful or lugubrious like Columbo or Crosby, so that he remains more listenable.




Perry Askam Collection (Complete)

Donald Novis Collection 1930-1933 (Complete)

George Jessel Collection 1925-1934 (Complete)

Noah Beery Collection 1930 (Complete)

Charles Buddy Rogers Collection 1930-1932 (Complete)

Frank Bessinger Vocal Collection 1926 (Complete)

Sylvia Froos 1930-1932 Collection (Complete)

J. Harold Murray Collection 1923-1930 (Complete)

Edwin J. McEnelly Collection 1925-1929 (Complete)

Baby Rose Marie Collection 1930-1935 (Complete)

Polly Walker Collection 1928 (Complete)

Leo Reisman Victor Recordings Collection 1929-1933 (Complete) One of the big ones.

Irene Bordoni Collection 1923-1929 (Complete)

Al Goodman Orchestra Collection 1929-1930 (Complete)

Jeanette MacDonald Collection 1929-1934 (Complete)

Leonard Joy All String Orchestra Collection 1930 (Complete)

Ted Lewis Collection 1919-1934 (Complete)

Charles King Collection 1925-1930 (Complete)

Frank Crumit Collection 1925-1934 (Complete)

John Boles Collection 1929-1930 (Complete)

Tom Coakley Collection 1925-1935 (Complete)

Jackie Taylor Collection 1929-1930 (Complete)

Waring's Pennsylvanians 1925-1934 (Complete)

Lawrence Gray Collection 1929-1930 (Complete)

This goes on for another page, and then you add their incomplete collections, which may still have 30 songs, just not all 32 they know were issued.

Now, any need you have to spend money on music is because you want one of those major names whose recordings are still being heavily controlled, like Bing Crosby (the third crooner, notably absent from the Popular Jazz Archives collections), or record hiss makes you really nervous.

Rhapsody in Blue. *****!

1989; Reader's Digest; CD
A CD of ten cuts of Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. The title cut is over nine minutes long, and features George Gershwin on piano. "Old Man River" has the Rhythm Boys featuring Bing Crosby for vocals.

Bing Crosby the Crooner; the Columbia Years 1928-1934 ****

1988; CBS Records; CD/mp3
Michael Brooks deserves the Grammy he won for his liner notes, entertaining as well as informative (and occasionally sublime). The 65 cuts includes many rarities that were not released at the time, or a slightly different version than the cut released.

Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra: The Victor Masters, Featuring Bing Crosby ***

1989; BMG Music, New York; CD
The 13 from 1927 and 1928 do largely feature Der Bingle; but tracks 14-20 are from 1932, with a few from '34 and '35 without him. Track 4 has piano and vocal by Hoagy Carmichael, #16 and #20 Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer, as well as others. The jump does let you see the evolution of Hot Jazz towards Swing.

Thanks for the Memories **

Reader's Digest 1988; Reader's Digest; no, don't buy it in any format.
Tunes first popular in the Thirties, but most of the cuts on these four CD's are too modern and moderately dreadful. The best cuts are by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. The Fireside Singers are, as usual, either drivelly lyrical or so cutesy you could t'row up. The booklet of liner notes is its chief redeeming feature, though the instrumental cuts are fine if you are imagining a non-star band at your local dining and dancing spot.

Down Memory Lane -- the Golden Twenties *

1990; Reader's Digest; no, don't buy it in any format. Don't even waste space on it.
An anthology of songs from the Twenties, but most of them are done either Cool Jazz or Muzak versions. I had a hard time finding a dozen cuts worth listening to out of 82. Pretty good liner notes, though. Best for a collection of Cool Jazz sounds!

Web Sites

American Memory ****!

For everything American, whether books, maps, pamphlets, or pictures. The Library of Congress might have up what you're looking for, as well as things you never imagined were available.

Dining Through the Decades *****!

An entertaining overview on popular trends in American cuisine from the 1900s through the 1990s. Includes recipes from each decade


Heraldica ****

Over 200 articles on the succession, courts, development of titles, lines of descent, legalities of claims to titles, etc. on the upper classes of Europe. Some refer back as forward as this period. These are topics often covered nowhere at all. As well, portrait galleries of various families can be found.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook ****

Halsall, whom we know from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, is responding to demand in the world by now compiling an onl-line library on modern subjects. As it grows, you never know what has been lately added.


Project Gutenberg ****

Since 1971 putting classic books into electronic form.


Maps of Switzerland****

German language site provides them from 1549-1939


Twists, Slugs and Roscoes: A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang ****

Here's your guide to talking tough for underworld types. Accurate and well-researched. Check especially the note on "gunsel."


Hot Jazz Age Sources

Hot Jazz Age Color Names

1923 Railroad Atlas

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