While researching Pola Negri’s life and career for my biography of her, “A Creature of Flame and Desire,” I discovered a few interesting web sites that from which I gleaned a great deal of information. Most of the material in these is public domain U.S. law so the data is readily usable,
1. https://archive.org/details/mediahistory: This is an invaluable website as it contains much of the run of movie fan magazines from the 1920’s and 1930’s, including Photoplay, Motion Picture, Motion Picture Classic, Pictureplay, Variety, Shadowland, as well as trade publications like “Film Daily,” foreign film journals and a few rare biographies and tomes on motion picture production. You could literally spend hours delving through the treasures herein. If you want to know what the people and exhibitors back then thought of movie stars and pictures, this is the site you need to visit.
2.http://www.nitrateville.com: this site has sections regarding both silents and talkies. The silent section offers news and discussions of endless topics. While the search engine isn’t the best, it’s a fascinating look as to opinions from folks who have delved deeply into silent picture history and, many times, post all sorts of items from old trade ads to brief film clips to make their point. There are is also the occasional third-grade name calling, but it is occasionally fun to read.
3.http://www.researchguides.net/newspapers.htm: this site offers a state by state resources as to old newspapers–which one are free and which one require you to pay. I particularly recommend the Wyoming and Utah sites as they are free and when I punched in “Pola Negri”, I literally got hundreds of ads, articles, interviews, and fluff pieces regarding her life and career. This site will also lead you to Old New York Historical Newspaper pages which can literally give you thousands of articles on whichever silent artist interests you.
4.http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper: This web site features old newspapers from Australia and offers good examples of the kind of publicity on silent stars and pictures that was shipped out to foreign countries. There were dozens of regional newspapers in Australia in the 1920’s and they make for interesting reading.
These places are as good as any to start. If you find any others, drop me a line. To share is to care.