The Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Archives are being digitized and placed online as a cooperative project between the Heinlein Prize Trust and the UC Santa Cruz Archives. Heinlein’s manuscripts, letters, photos and scrapbook pages are among the offerings. Every set of documents has a detailed abstract to assist researchers. As of July 7, 106,949 pages of documents were already accessible, with approximately 96,000 remaining to be added.
Memorable bits of fanhistory are salted throughout the archive, but only findable if you know exactly what you are looking for. Direct searches for Heinlein’s connections to fandom using obvious terms like “worldcon” and “fandom” return surprisingly little considering that the man was a three-time Worldcon Guest of Honor and life-long member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.
Plug “worldcon” into the search engine and copies of his three Worldcon speeches show up, predictably enough. However, “fandom” returns a null set. So does “LASFS.” Quite surprisingly, there is not so much as a handwritten note related to Heinlein’s unusual visit to the LASFS clubhouse in 1976 to thank members for their support of the Worldcon blood drive.
“Blood drive” itself, however, is a highly productive search term, leading to “Are You A Rare Blood” and a precis of the Dennis Paradis correspondence file revealing some of Ginny Heinlein’s strongly negative feelings about the De Camps.
Searches of specific names occasionally produce tantalizing results. The archives contain David Gerrold’s 1971 letters to Heinlein and pages from the script for “The Trouble With Tribbles” – presumably about the similarity between tribbles and Heinlein’s “flat cats,” though the letters were written years after Gerrold’s episode aired.
There are also drafts of Heinlein’s angry letter to Forrest J Ackerman about selling Heinlein’s 1941 Denvention GoH speech to the prozine Vertex in 1973. The archivists say this is “a very forthright letter ending with ‘Keep your hands off my property’, underlined….”
But if you want to read these letters, remember, there is a modest charge of a few dollars for each item downloaded. Yes, that’s our Bob!