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The International Brotherhood of Magicians

19 Jun

Extensive Online Database Benefits Researchers and Others

Category: Resources   Posted by: WILLIAM SPOONER

The Conjuring Arts Research Center was established in 2003 as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts. The Center, located at 11 West 30th Street in Manhattan, is the brainchild and creation of William Kalush who has amassed over 12,000 volumes of books and journals and rare documents. The rare book room contains an impressive collection of books dating back to the 15th century, including a number of variations of Reginald Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft.

Over 500 volumes were published before the 1700s. Many of these rare volumes are in Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Latin, French, German, Swedish and Japanese and are being translated into English. The library collection houses volumes on the allied arts and includes Bill Kalushtopics on psychic phenomenon, hypnosis, deceptive gambling, mentalism, ventriloquism, juggling, and sleight-of-hand techniques. The Conjuring Arts Research Center has a talented staff composed of an office manager, head Librarian, director of research and translation, and creative director. These staff members, as well as others, contribute to the success of the Conjuring Arts Research Center.

Who can benefit from the Conjuring Arts Research Center? Anyone who has an interest in magic and the allied arts, present or past, whether a performer, collector, academic historian, writer, or magic enthusiasts will find Center most helpful. As a research tool The Conjuring Arts Research Center fills the gap between private collections of magic related history and information, and the public. You can participate by becoming a member at one of three individual membership levels. To understand the benefits of the various membership levels, go to the Center’s web site,

A visitor to the Center’s website can view three video clips of Houdini performing. An Exhibition is also available for viewing. The current shows are: Jimmy Grippo's life, Handcuff’s: A Rogue’s Gallery, and Letters From Our Collection. The Letters program presents some very interesting historical letters written by famous magicians of the past. Earlier exhibitions are also available for viewing, including Card Men of Mystery, The Magic of LePaul, Magic Christmas, and The Many Faces of Magic. By all means you should browse the library and its holdings. The book and magazine catalogs are most impressive. There is a listing of instruction sheets, Jordan effects and Toole Stott.

The Conjuring Arts Research Center also holds special events, publishes two volumes per year of the Gibeciere, a research journal with articles contributed by internationally recognized authors. In addition, there are two issues of the Conjuring Arts Bulletin published each year. Discount prices on a variety of current magic publications are also available to members.

A unique and phenomenal feature of the Conjuring Arts Research Center is its on-line search engine named Ask Alexander. This feature propels magic research well into the 21st century as it is the first and only such on-line magic search engine in the world of magic. To search the vast holdings of Ask Alexander, a member simply enters a word or phrase and almost instantly receives an abbreviated list of all references with the search criteria. Based on the subject, the number of hits could be a few, hundreds, or thousands. Each hit can be called up from the respective source for reading and/or printing out. This search process scans hundreds of books and journals in a matter of seconds. Ask Alexander is really the “Google of Magic,” as it provides its members with instant access to a vast library without members ever having to leave their desk. The searches can be ordered by ascending or descending dates, author/editor, and title. The Secret Life of Houdini by Bill Kalush and Larry Sloman was made possible through the massive Houdini files of Ask Alexander

My first experience using Ask Alexander convinced me of the system’s power. I had been searching for a relationship between T. Nelson Downs and Ernest Noakes for three years without success. In less than five minutes I had my answer with Ask Alexander. It was an emotional moment as I realized how fortunate I was to have access to a library far beyond my wildest dreams.

The I.B.M. Board of Trustees recently granted the Conjuring Arts Research Center permission to provide the Linking Ring magazine files to its subscribing members through Ask Alexander. As an I.B.M. member you might be amazed at the frequency your name appears in print. I.B.M. members interested in becoming a member of the Conjuring Arts Research Center should explore all aspects of the Center’s website, You too will be impressed with Bill Kalush’s efforts to preserve and advance knowledge in the magical arts.

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