How I Research A Subject

In this age of technology, I enjoy using all the benefits that the internet offers when doing research. But I also have an extensive library of books. I honestly do not know how anyone can properly research a subject without digging through books at some point. Here are a few of the books I regularly use in my research:

The Annals of Conjuring by Sidney W. Clarke
The Illustrated History of Magic by Milbourne Christopher
MAGIC A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theater by David Price
Of Legerdermaine And Diverse Juggling Knacks by John Braun and Ken Klosterman
The Great Illusionist by Edwin A. Dawes
The Essential Robert-Houdin by The Miracle Factory
The Magic of Robert-Houdin by Christian Fechner
Kellars Wonders by Mike Caveney and Bill Miesel
Buatier DeKolta Genius of Illusion by Peter Warlock
Alexander by David Charvet
CARTER by Mike Caveney
Devant's Delightful Delusions by S.H. Sharpe
The Great Leon by Mike Caveney
LEVANTE His Life, No Illusion by Ken Blackmore
P.T. Selbit Magical Innovator
Servais LeRoy by William Rauscher
Thurston Workbooks 1 and 2
Walter Jeans Illusioneer by Peter Warlock
The Great Lyle by Edwin A. Dawes
St. Georges Hall by Anne Davenport and John Sallise
The Genius of Robert Harbin
Mr. Electric Unplugged by Marvyn Roy
Mike Caveney Wonders
The Blackstone Book of Magic by Harry Blackstone Jr
The Worlds Greatest Magic by Hyla Clark
Blackstone A Magicians Life by Dan Waldren
Memoirs of An Elusive Moth by Adele Friel Rhindress
Illusion Show by David Bamberg
Laurant by Gave Fajuri
The Glorious Deception by Jim Steinmeyer
Trouping with Dante by Marion Trikosko
Cardini The Suave Deceiver by John Fisher
Germain the Wizard by Stuart Kramer
House of Mystery by David Abbott, Todd Karr, and Teller
Roy Benson by Starlight by Levent
Silence of Chung Ling Soo by Todd Karr
Spellbound by John Harrison
White Magic by Jasper Maskelyne
Malini and His Magic by Dai Vernon

I also have a ton of books in storage at the moment on magic history and magicians, so
I've got my bases covered.


This list would be enormous if I listed them all. Let's just say I have almost every major biography and books published on Houdini in the last 50 years and then some. One glaring omission is the 2 Volume Set HOUDINI Unlocked by Patrick Culliton, I do hope to eventually get a copy however.
Thankfully, I do have HOUDINI The KEY also by Patrick Culliton which is beyond
fantastic.  There are a few of the lesser known books that I don't have, but I'm always on the look out for them. I also have a number of the Scrapbooks downloaded as .pdf files so I can access the information contained within them.


Because I write about a lot of illusionists and because I am also a working illusionist, I have an extensive library of books on illusion, like all the Steinmeyer books, the various books and plans by Paul Osborne, the Jarrett Book, The Great Illusions of Magic, The Harbin Book, Stage Illusions by Will Goldston, and many others.


More Magic, Later Magic, and Modern Magic by Prof. Hoffmann,
The Tarbell Course in Magic
Greater Magic
Illustrated Magic Ottokar Fischer
The Modern Conjurer by C. Lang Neil
Great Magicians Tricks by Will Goldston
Woes of a Wizard by David Devant
My Magical Life by David Devant
The Modern Wizard by August Roterberg
The Art of Magic by T. Nelson Downs
MAGIC Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions by Albert Hopkins
Maskelyne's Book of Magic by Jasper Maskelyne
and many many more


In my library I have books on escapes, tons of books on close-up magic, books on mentalism, and various other topics such as magic theory, creativity and the like. I never know when one of those might contain a tidbit of information that is important to a historical magic event. 

As far as internet resources, the best for magic is  I also check newspaper archives, news archives, online libraries and more. From time to time a new resource opens that I didn't know about, so I love what the internet offers in regards to research. I have a couple secret sources of info that I sometimes tap....pays to KNOW people! :) I've also been known to contact fellow bloggers to get insight. And I will link to other blog sites if they have content that fits with mine.

Every now and then I will get an email and someone may have a lead on a story or they may have something of historical significance to share. I love when that happens! Also, sometimes folks will send me stuff and that's always appreciated as well. I have a stack of things (books, magazines, ephemera) that I've gotten that I have yet to get to, but I WILL!

I generally pick a topic and then go about finding as much as I can on that particular subject. Sometimes, I'm really passionate about it, other times I'm just somewhat curious. My research on Robert Heller was something I became very passionate about because there wasn't much out there. I have a similar interest in Wyman the Wizard and now Frederick Eugene Powell. So you'll see more written about people I'm intrigued with. Houdini of course still has the lionshare of articles on this blog and probably always will. I've written a lot about Harry Kellar as well and also some personal friends, the folks at LeGrand David Show in Beverly Mass..

The toughest part of research is coming up with photos. This is an ongoing problem. Over the years I have had a ton of photos sent to me which was nice, but I don't always use them unless I know the source. I also occasionally see photos online and I'll try and get permission to use them. If not, sometimes I'll include a link to the photo rather than putting it into the article. At least that way the reader can enjoy the image and I don't have to hold an article up waiting for someone to respond with a yes/no on whether I can use their image.

All my efforts go into sharing magic history with the world! Mostly, it's the magic world, but I also hear from people interested in history as well. I really enjoy it. I've had the opportunity many times to lecture and speak on magic history since the blog went up. YES, I DO LECTURES on MAGIC HISTORY! I also lecture on HOUDINI!
I've picked up a many shows from the site. And I've created a few routines that have used an incident from history as their story line. So, though I receive no income from this site itself, I do occasionally benefit through paid lectures or shows. And that helps to offset the cost of subscriptions to archival sites and new books.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the blog. And if you ever have a question please contact me. I always encourage people to comment after the articles also, I love to hear what people think (unless it's negative or spam), lol.

Dean Carnegie,
The Magic Detective

1 comment:

  1. Heyy, great post there!
    I'm trying to make a comic about magic here... and as I've found your blog, your posts would be great source to start!