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Opening the Variety vault

Digital version of 105-year archives unveiled Monday

Variety.com unveils today a digital version of the paper’s 105-year archives.

Each issue, available at Variety.com/archive, will be viewable in its original page-by-page format — and articles, ads, names, companies and titles will be searchable.

The archives consist of 27,000 issues, more than 850,000 stories, 200,000 reviews and countless uses of slanguage and snappy headlines.

For $60, users can access up to 50 issues during one month’s time. Unlimited access is available for $600 annually. A free preview offers views of Variety’s coverage of every Academy Awards ceremony since 1929.

This is the first phase of a two-part rollout. As technical issues are ironed out during the first phase, a small percentage of material will not be immediately available. If you’re searching for an item and it’s not there, email us at help@varietyarchives.com and we will work on that.

The archives are intended to be a research tool but also provide entertainment. Some of the stories and advertisements are quaint, others perplexing.

But much of it is surprisingly pertinent, such as an item about Disney experimenting with 3D — in 1933.

As the Variety stories relate business deals and events, they reflect the interests, tastes and priorities of each age.

There were low points (HUAC hearings) and times of trouble (the Depression). There were also high points, ranging from record-breaking box office to TV’s coverage of the 1969 moon landing. There are also ads worth remembering, including, for example, Bette Davis’ blurb in the early 1960s saying she needed a job.

As a reader scans the decades of coverage, there is a degree of solace to be found even amid difficult times. In each period of great transition — including the introduction of talking pictures, the dawn of TV, the home-video boom — fear and confusion ultimately gave way to opportunities, growth and the flowering of creativity.

All of these revolutions are chronicled, and the stories offer reminders that things eventually get better, and maybe significantly better.

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