Presenting the Stark Electronic Archive

By Digital Archivist
June 27, 2012

You may have read the headline and sensibly asked yourself, “what is an electronic archive?” In a few words, the Stark E-Archive is the latest in our ongoing efforts to facilitate physical culture scholarship and education.

The words “electronic” and “archive” might seem strange in apposition, but they fit. We plan to have this new system house the bulk of our new born digital and newly digitized materials. In addition, it will serve more and more as the central store for many of our available, but variously located, ebooks and other e-materials. In this way, the Stark E-Archive will simplify and ease access to our electronic materials. The miracles of the digital age made manifest at the Stark!

More than a Web portal to our archives, the Stark E-Archive is an archive itself. With the World Wide Web, the definitions of and roles for archives have enlarged. No longer are they solely physical places. The Stark E-Archive reflects traditional archival roles of stewardship, of curation, of preservation,  while incorporating the excitement of the Web, of instantaneous and always available access. This is why the E-Archive is more than just a Web ready consolidation of previously and newly available Stark Center material–it is a radical step forward in how we manage our electronic materials in the charge of serving our users.

What we find particularly interesting about the Stark E-Archive is that it is a near raw space. As a counterpart and extension of our physical archival, it functions as a resource for creators and seekers. Unlike the items in the stacks, however, the E-Archive materials are constantly in public view from moment one. In the Stark Center’s capacities as a library and museum, we marvel at the tremendous efforts of librarians, archivists, scholars, and otherwise, to process and exhibit the materials in our archive. These context building and descriptive activities surrounding objects of historical importance are essential to our mission. But these activities come at the cost of access, time and space constraints. And for every featured exhibit, there are countless items wanting the same treatment. The Stark E-Archive permits a transparent environment where many physical culture objects may be accessed and used throughout the various stages of processing and context building.

The Stark Digital Archive is available at or by selecting “Stark Digital Archive” from the Stark Center’s main navigation menu. The Stark E-Archive is powered by Dspace. If you have any questions, technical or otherwise, or comments, please contact the Digital Archivist:



Elmer Bitgood’s Boulder Bell

By Terry Todd
December 14, 2010

This is the first of what I hope will be more regular and frequent additions to the Director’s Blog, which I allowed to lapse some months ago due to a combination of other time demands related to the Stark Center, travel, several lengthy writing projects and, of course, procrastination—my old standby. Anyway, I have notes on about 20 new blogs and will do my best to stay on task as we move forward and keep people informed about activities here at the Stark Center. For one thing, we’re fortunate to have recently received a number of wonderful additions to the Center’s various components—the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture, the Todd-McLean Library, and the Sports Gallery. In the first of the new blogs, I want to explain a bit about one of these additions–an artifact from a unique group of primitive weights which are more or less what Barney Rubble might have lifted—and how we acquired it for display in the Weider Museum. So here goes:

Helping Hands

By Terry Todd
May 12, 2010

For whatever reason, hands and hand strength have always fascinated me. Perhaps it began with seeing my maternal grandfather, Marvin Williams, break the shell of a native pecan by the pressure of the thumb and forefinger of one hand—a truly difficult stunt. In any case, my fascitation blossomed in my late teens and early 20s as I ploughed through the extensive collection of magazines about strength training assembled by my friend and mentor Professor Roy “Mac” McLean. (more…)

The Professor, Before and After

By Terry Todd
January 27, 2010

In 1987, Jan and I acquired from the legendary Sig Klein a number of artifacts which had been in the Klein-Durlacher family for a very long time. Those artifacts included a copper-headed walking cane bearing the name of Professor Attila, which was the professional or “stage” name of Louis Durlacher, who taught Sandow much of what the famous strongman knew about strength and, especially, stagecraft. After he had helped launch Sandow’s career Attila left Europe and settled in North America in 1893. Another “Attila” artifact was a satin-smooth wooden wrist-roller Klein told me the Professor had brought from Europe. Much more significant, of course, was the remarkable scrapbook documenting the Professor’s long and successful career as a strongman and, later, as the owner of what for a time was arguably the most famous gym in the United States. The scrapbook has been scanned in its entirety, and will be made available to visitors to our website within the next couple weeks – check back soon for more information.

Even more significant, in the minds of some iron game experts, was the gilt-framed oil painting of Attila supposedly painted in 1887 by a “court painter” who did portraits of members of the royal family. The story I got from Klein, who got it from the Professor’s widow, was that one or more of the “royals” was grateful to Attila for the work he had done as a personal trainer and so he commissioned a particular court painter to produce a portrait of Attila as a present. In any case, the painting had come down to Klein and his wife (the Professor’s daughter Rose) and it was one of the very few things that Klein didn’t sell when he closed his landmark gym in Manhattan in the mid-1970s.


By Terry Todd
October 2, 2009

Today, as I was showing a rent-house of mine to a potential tenant I noticed and then pointed out the built-in mission-style, glass-fronted bookcases on either side of the fireplace. I mentioned that those bookcases—built by my paternal grandparents and used by them as well as by my father and my Uncle Walter—were the birthplace of my lifelong fascination with books, with reading. Not only the information in the books but the books themselves—their feel, their look, their smell, and their heft. Once I realized that books were the keys to many kingdoms, they soon held me in their sway and became, over time, as real to me as my schoolmates and, usually, were much better company.

In my mind’s eye I can still see as in a well-loved photo in a family album the dramatic illustrations in a huge, well-worn volume on “natural history” that drew my attention well before I was ten. In particular, I was enthralled by the illustrations of a fearsome, thick-bodied sea creature that looked, except for its lack of a smile, a lot like the friendly monsters drawn much later by Maurice Sendak for his justifiably famous children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are. I also loved the Kraken, a colossal squid that was said to rise from the deep during storms to grasp in its python-like tentacles the top-masts of sailing ships and drag them and their crew to a watery grave. But my favorite was the Gorilla, which–to give you an idea of the age of the book, and of me–was the star of a chapter entitled, “The Gorilla: Does He Exist?”