The following is a guest post by Shawn Gallagher, management and program analyst.
As a child growing up in the 1970s, one of my most prized possessions was a Luke Skywalker action figure. He was the hero of my youth, and I was surprised to learn recently that Luke wasn’t always a Skywalker. He was originally a Starkiller. I found this shocking (to me) information while browsing the card catalog in the Copyright Reading Room that’s located in a large room in Washington, DC.
Starting today, though, I can see that card from anywhere in the world. With the public release of the Virtual Card Catalog proof of concept, I can browse full-color scans of the cards in indexes from 1955–1970 and 1971–1977. That’s almost 18 million images.
Among those images, I see that Luke’s original surname was noted in a copyright registration from the Star Wars Corporation that appeared in December of 1975. This is fascinating to me personally, and I want to share the card so that others can see the same information. Undoubtedly, certain corners of the internet already knew this, but seeing the 40-year-old registration is enthralling.
This Virtual Card Catalog (VCC) is the first step of many. It consists of cards arranged just like you’d find them in one of those old card catalogs you used to see in libraries everywhere. The VCC is bare-bones and doesn’t have all the features of a modern search engine. But it is a great place to start. I encourage everyone to check it out. Other indexes will be released throughout the year, and enhancements will be added based on your feedback. Please visit the Virtual Card Catalog and use the feedback link and optional survey for your input.