Cataloguing the Dirk Bogarde collection

Our friends at the Melodrama Research Group are still in the midst of a series of Dirk Bogarde screenings – do have a look at the blog if you’re interested! In the meantime, here’s another update on the Dirk Bogarde research project, again by Dr Sarah Polley…



The collection arrived and was installed in my study by the two friendly people who delivered it. I obviously had to make sure that the 2 very large and 4 medium sized boxes (see photo!) were stored safely: i.e. out of the sun, and away from heat sources and water. Before getting to the detailed examination I had a quick look through the contents to assess what types of magazines were in each box – and to judge how much more would have to be added to the website spreadsheet. There seemed to be a fair number more magazines than were on the website. It was interesting to see the sheer variety of complete and incomplete magazines (some were just a clipping or a photograph). I particularly liked seeing signs of people who had previously worked with the collection. These included a receipt from Ebay for a magazine (which also showed when it was purchased), data sheets of photograph files, the titles of magazines hand-written on photocopies etc, and in one case a hand-written note from someone to Brock. I decided to start with the boxes which seemed smaller (!) and included the magazines which already made up most of my spreadsheet.

Getting to the detail of the magazines, it seemed that my initial spreadsheet plan was working well. It needed a few additions though. A key aspect which had not occurred to me before the collection arrived became an obvious necessity: noting the number of the box a particular magazine was in. I made a decision early on to keep the magazines in the same boxes as when they arrived– while I could not discern a pattern for which box magazines were assigned to, I thought it best not to reorganise them. In addition to the box number, I added a ‘Magazine Notes’ category. This was used when duplicates of magazines occurred, so that the BFI would be able to judge the state of these extra copies – e.g. if another, more complete, version of the magazine was in the collection and where it was located. I also pondered how to categorise material which was not a complete (or mostly complete) magazine; in addition to single pages from magazines (which I could not always identify), there were clippings (again, I could not always be sure of their source) and photocopies. I used consistent terms for similar material (e.g. photocopy, loose clipping etc) and included this in the ‘Magazine Notes’ category. Terms like ‘photocopy’ and ‘clipping’ could therefore be searched for in the spreadsheet.

I also had a surprising amount of difficulty with complete magazines in finding some of the basic information which was necessary. A magazine’s Volume and Number were not always both present, and at times I could locate neither of these. While they were often seen on a magazine’s cover, or a contents pages, they were sometimes present towards the back of a magazine, or indeed not at all. There were occasionally magazines which appeared on the website (and therefore the spreadsheet) but which were entirely missing from the collection. More specifically in relation to Bogarde material, the connection to him was not always obvious. On the other hand, for those magazines I had already seen on the official website there was sometimes additional Bogarde material to be found – e.g. a film review, or a portrait which was not listed on the website. Magazines which only appeared in the physical collection usually shared something in common: they were mostly foreign language. I think that difficulties with transcribing these had probably led to them not being included on the website. This is an exciting discovery as it means the variety of magazines from different countries can be explored.

If you’d like to share your comments on cataloguing difficulties (and of course joys!) you’ve experienced please do so, or email me, Sarah Polley, on

In the next post: I’ll summarise the collection’s magazines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *