Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UIS Archives is source of materials for PBS documentary

Program on the Handy Writers' Colony will air nationwide

Inside the Handy Writers' Colony, a PBS documentary that will air nationwide on Thursday, October 23, drew extensively on archival materials housed in Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The program will air locally on the HD (High Definition) channels of WILL and WSEC at 9 p.m.

Founded in 1950 by Lowney and Harry Handy in Marshall, Illinois, the Handy Writers' Colony flourished for approximately 15 years. During that time it supported numerous young writers, many of whom subsequently published their work. Its most famous resident was novelist James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity.

The program explores the turbulent years of this literary experiment through flashback sequences and interviews with former colony residents, Marshall townspeople, and scholars. Narrated by Nick Clooney, the film features the voice of Jane Alexander as Lowney Turner Handy.

In 1983, J. Michael Lennon and Jeffrey Van Davis of then-Sangamon State University produced a television documentary titled James Jones: Reveille to Taps, which also aired nationally on PBS. While researching this documentary, Lennon and Van Davis acquired a large collection of material – photographs and hundreds of letters and pages of manuscripts written by Jones and others associated with the Colony – that is now preserved in the UIS Archives as the Handy Colony Collection. This collection is open to researchers, and has been a resource for several books, articles, and papers.

For the new documentary, UIS Archivist Thomas Wood assisted writer/director/producer Dawn Shapiro of Chicago-based Woodlawn Avenue Productions in selecting materials from the Handy Colony Collection. Some interview footage from the earlier documentary is also featured in Inside the Handy Writers' Colony.

For more information, go to www.pbs.org/insidethehandywriterscolony/ or www.insidethehandywriterscolony.com, or contact Thomas Wood at 217/206-6520.

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