Counting down to 1925 in the public domain

We’re rapidly approaching another Public Domain Day, the day at the start of the year when a year’s worth of creative work joins the public domain. This will be the third year in a row that the US will have a full crop of new public domain works (after a prior 20-year drought), and once again, I’m noting and celebrating works that will be entering the public domain shortly. Approaching 2019, I wrote a one-post-a-day Advent Calendar for 1923 works throughout the month of December, and approaching 2020, I highlighted a few 1924 works, and related copyright issues, in a series of December posts called 2020 Vision.

This year I took to Twitter, making one tweet per day featuring a different 1925 work and creator using the #PublicDomainDayCountdown hashtag. Tweets are shorter than blog posts, but I started 99 days out, so by the time I finish the series at the end of December, I’ll have written short notices on more works than ever. Since not everyone reads Twitter, and there’s no guarantee that my tweets will always be accessible on that site, I’ll reproduce them here. (This post will be updated to include all the tweets up to 2021.) The tweet links have been reformatted for the blog, a couple of 2-tweet threads have been recombined, and some typos may be corrected.

If you’d like to comment yourself on any of the works mentioned here, or suggest others I can feature, feel free to reply here or on Twitter. (My account there is @JMarkOckerbloom. You’ll also find some other people tweeting on the #PublicDomainDayCountdown hashtag, and you’re welcome to join in as well.)

September 24: It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday. His best-known book, The Great Gatsby, joins the US public domain 99 days from now, along with other works with active 1925 copyrights. #PublicDomainDayCountdown (Links to free online books by Fitzgerald here.)

September 25: C. K. Scott-Moncrieff’s birthday’s today. He translated Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (a controversial title, as the Public Domain Review notes). The Guermantes Way, his translation of Proust’s 3rd volume, joins the US public domain in 98 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

September 26: Today is T.S. Eliot’s birthday. His poem “The Hollow Men” (which ends “…not with a bang but a whimper”) was first published in full in 1925, & joins the US public domain in 97 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown More by & about him here.

September 27: Lady Cynthia Asquith, born today in 1887, edited a number of anthologies that have long been read by children and fans of fantasy and supernatural fiction. Her first major collection, The Flying Carpet, joins the US public domain in 96 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

September 28: As @Marketplace reported tonight, Agatha Christie’s mysteries remain popular after 100 years. In 95 days, her novel The Secret of Chimneys will join the US public domain, as will the expanded US Poirot Investigates collection. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

September 29: Homer Hockett’s and Arthur Schlesinger, Sr.’s Political and Social History of the United States first came out in 1925, and was an influential college textbook for years thereafter. The first edition joins the public domain in 94 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

September 30: Inez Haynes Gillmore Irwin died 50 years ago this month, after a varied, prolific writing career. This 2012 blog post looks at 4 of her books, including Gertrude Haviland’s Divorce, which joins the public domain in 93 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 1: For some, spooky stories and themes aren’t just for October, but for the whole year. We’ll be welcoming a new year’s worth of Weird Tales to the public domain in 3 months. See what’s coming, and what’s already free online, here. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 2: Misinformation and quackery has been a threat to public health for a long time. In 13 weeks, the 1925 book The Patent Medicine and the Public Health, by American quack-fighter Arthur J. Cramp joins the public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 3: Sophie Treadwell, born this day in 1885, was a feminist, modernist playwright with several plays produced on Broadway, but many of her works are now hard to find. Her 1925 play “Many Mansions” joins the public domain in 90 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 4: It’s Edward Stratemeyer’s birthday. Books of his syndicate joining the public domain in 89 days include the debuts of Don Sturdy & the Blythe Girls, & further adventures of Tom Swift, Ruth Fielding, Baseball Joe, Betty Gordon, the Bobbsey Twins, & more. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 5: Russell Wilder was a pioneering diabetes doctor, testing newly invented insulin treatments that saved many patients’ lives. His 1925 book Diabetes: Its Cause and its Treatment with Insulin joins the public domain in 88 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 6: Queer British Catholic author Radclyffe Hall is best known for The Well of Loneliness. Hall’s earlier novel A Saturday Life is lighter, though it has some similar themes in subtext. It joins the US public domain in 87 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 7: Edgar Allan Poe’s stories have long been public domain, but some work unpublished when he died (on this day in 1849) stayed in © much longer. In 86 days, the Valentine Museum’s 1925 book of his previously unpublished letters finally goes public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 8: In 1925, the Nobel Prize in Literature went to George Bernard Shaw. In 85 days, his Table-Talk, published that year, will join the public domain in the US, and all his solo works published in his lifetime will be public domain nearly everywhere else. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 9: Author and editor Edward Bok was born this day in 1863. In Twice Thirty (1925), he follows up his Pulitzer-winning memoir The Americanization of Edward Bok with a set of essays from the perspective of his 60s. It joins the public domain in 84 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 10: In the 1925 silent comedy “The Freshman”, Harold Lloyd goes to Tate University, “a large football stadium with a college attached”, and goes from tackling dummy to unlikely football hero. It joins the public domain in 83 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 11: It’s François Mauriac’s birthday. His Le Desert de l’Amour, a novel that won the 1926 Grand Prix of the Académie Française, joins the US public domain in 82 days. Published translations may stay copyrighted, but Americans will be free to make new ones. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 12: Pulitzer-winning legal scholar Charles Warren’s Congress, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court (1925) analyzes controversies, some still argued, over relations between the US legislature and the US judiciary. It joins the public domain in 81 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 13: Science publishing in 1925 was largely a boys’ club, but some areas were more open to women authors, such as nursing & science education. I look forward to Maude Muse’s Textbook of Psychology for Nurses going public domain in 80 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown #AdaLovelaceDay

October 14: Happy birthday to poet E. E. Cummings, born this day in 1894. (while some of his poetry is lowercase he usually still capitalized his name when writing it out) His collection XLI Poems joins the public domain in 79 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 15: It’s PG Wodehouse’s birthday. In 78 days more of his humorous stories join the US public domain, including Sam in the Suburbs. It originally ran as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post in 1925. All that year’s issues also join the public domain then. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 16: Playwright and Nobel laureate Eugene O’Neill was born today in 1888. His “Desire Under the Elms” entered the US public domain this year; in 77 days, his plays “Marco’s Millions” and “The Great God Brown” will join it. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 17: Not everything makes it to the end of the long road to the US public domain. In 76 days, the copyright for the film Man and Maid (based on a book by Elinor Glyn) expires, but no known copies survive. Maybe someone will find one? #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 18: Corra Harris became famous for her novel A Circuit Rider’s Wife and her World War I reporting. The work she considered her best, though, was As a Woman Thinks. It joins the public domain in 75 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 19: Edna St. Vincent Millay died 70 years ago today. All her published work joins the public domain in 74 days in many places outside the US. Here, magazine work like “Sonnet to Gath” (in Sep 1925 Vanity Fair) will join, but renewed post-’25 work stays in ©. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 20: All songs eventually reach the public domain. Authors can put them there themselves, like Tom Lehrer just did for his lyrics. But other humorous songs arrive by the slow route, like Tilzer, Terker, & Heagney’s “Pardon Me (While I Laugh)” will in 73 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 21: Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio wasn’t a best-seller when it came out, but his Dark Laughter was. Since Joycean works fell out of fashion, that book’s been largely forgotten, but may get new attention when it joins the public domain in 72 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 22: Artist NC Wyeth was born this day in 1882. The Brandywine Museum near Philadelphia shows many of his works. His illustrated edition of Francis Parkman’s book The Oregon Trail joins the public domain in 71 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 23: Today (especially at 6:02, on 10/23) many chemists celebrate #MoleDay. In 70 days, they’ll also get to celebrate historically important chemistry publications joining the US public domain, including all 1925 issues of Justus Liebigs Annalen der Chemie. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 24: While some early Alfred Hitchcock films were in the US public domain for a while due to formality issues, the GATT accords restored their copyrights. His directorial debut, The Pleasure Garden, rejoins the public domain (this time for good) in 69 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown (Addendum: There may still be one more year of copyright to this film as of 2021; see the comments to this post for details.)

October 25: Albert Barnes took a different approach to art than most of his contemporaries. The first edition of The Art in Painting, where he explains his theories and shows examples from his collection, joins the public domain in 68 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 26: Prolific writer Carolyn Wells had a long-running series of mystery novels featuring Fleming Stone. Here’s a blog post by The Passing Tramp on one of them, The Daughter of the House, which will join the public domain in 67 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 27: Theodore Roosevelt was born today in 1858, and died over 100 years ago, but some of his works are still copyrighted. In 66 days, 2 volumes of his correspondence with Henry Cabot Lodge, written from 1884-1918 and published in 1925, join the public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 28: American composer and conductor Howard Hanson was born on this day in 1896. His choral piece “Lament for Beowulf” joins the public domain in 65 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 29: “Skitter Cat” was a white Persian cat who had adventures in several children’s books by Eleanor Youmans, illustrated by Ruth Bennett. The first of the books joins the public domain in 64 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown #NationalCatDay

October 30:Secret Service Smith” was a detective created by Canadian author R. T. M. Maitland. His first magazine appearance was in 1920; his first original full-length novel, The Black Magician, joins the public domain in 9 weeks. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

October 31: Poet John Keats was born this day in 1795. Amy Lowell’s 2-volume biography links his Romantic poetry with her Imagist poetry. (1 review.) She finished and published it just before she died. It joins the public domain in 62 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 1: “Not just for an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but always.” Irving Berlin gave the rights to this song to his bride in 1926. Both are gone now, and in 2 months it will join the public domain for all of us, always. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 2: Mikhail Fokine’s The Dying Swan dance, set to music by Camille Saint-Saëns, premiered in 1905, but its choreography wasn’t published until 1925, the same year a film of it was released. It joins the public domain in 60 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown (Choreography copyright is weird. Not only does the term not start until publication, which can be long after 1st performance, but what’s copyrightable has also changed. Before 1978 it had to qualify as dramatic; now it doesn’t, but it has to be more than a short step sequence.)

November 3: Herbert Hoover was the only sitting president to be voted out of office between 1912 & 1976. Before taking office, he wrote the foreword to Carolyn Crane’s Everyman’s House, part of a homeowners’ campaign he co-led. It goes out of copyright in 59 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 4:The Golden Cocoon” is a 1925 silent melodrama featuring an election, jilted lovers, and extortion. The Ruth Cross novel it’s based on went public domain this year. The film will join it there in 58 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 5: Investigative journalist Ida Tarbell was born today in 1857. Her History of Standard Oil helped break up that trust in 1911, but her Life of Elbert H. Gary wrote more admiringly of his chairmanship of US Steel. It joins the public domain in 57 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 6: Harold Ross was born on this day in 1892. He was the first editor of The New Yorker, which he established in coöperation with his wife, Jane Grant. After ninety-five years, the magazine’s first issues are set to join the public domain in fifty-six days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 7: “Sweet Georgia Brown” by Ben Bernie & Maceo Pinkard (lyrics by Kenneth Casey) is a jazz standard, the theme tune of the Harlem Globetrotters, and a song often played in celebration. One thing we can celebrate in 55 days is it joining the public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 8: Today I hiked on the Appalachian Trail. It was completed in 1937, but parts are much older. Walter Collins O’Kane’s Trails and Summits of the White Mountains, published in 1925 when the AT was more idea than reality, goes public domain in 54 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 9: In Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith, a brilliant medical researcher deals with personal and ethical issues as he tries to find a cure for a deadly epidemic. The novel has stayed relevant well past its 1925 publication, and joins the public domain in 53 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 10: John Marquand was born today in 1893. He’s known for his spy stories and satires, but an early novel, The Black Cargo, features a sailor curious about a mysterious payload on a ship he’s been hired onto. It joins the US public domain in 52 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 11: The first world war, whose armistice was 102 years ago today, cast a long shadow. Among the many literary works looking back to it is Ford Madox Ford’s novel No More Parades, part of his “Parade’s End” tetralogy. It joins the public domain in 51 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 12: Anne Parrish was born on this day in 1888. In 1925, The Dream Coach, co-written with her brother, got a Newbery honor , and her novel The Perennial Bachelor was a best-seller. The latter book joins the public domain in 50 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 13: In “The Curse of the Golden Cross”, G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown once again finds a natural explanation to what seem to be preternatural symbols & events. As of today, Friday the 13th, the 1925 story is exactly 7 weeks away from the US public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 14: The pop standard “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” was the baby of Walter Donaldson (music) and Gus Kahn (lyrics). It’s been performed by many artists since its composition, and in 48 days, this baby steps out into the public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 15: Marianne Moore, born on this day in 1887, had a long literary career, including editing the influential modernist magazine The Dial from 1925 on. In 47 days, all 1925 issues of that magazine will be fully in the public domain. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 16: George S. Kaufman, born today in 1889, wrote or directed a play in every Broadway season from 1921 till 1958. In 46 days, several of his plays join the public domain, including his still-performed comedy “The Butter and Egg Man”. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 17: Shen of the Sea was a Newbery-winning collection of stories presented as “Chinese” folktales, but written by American author Arthur Bowie Chrisman. Praised when first published, seen more as appropriation later, it’ll be appropriable itself in 45 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 18: I share a birthday today with Jacques Maritain, a French Catholic philosopher who influenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His book on 3 reformers (Luther, Descartes, and Rousseau) joins the public domain in 44 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 19: Prevailing views of history change a lot over 95 years. The 1926 Pulitzer history prize went to a book titled “The War for Southern Independence”. The last volume of Edward Channing’s History of the United States, it joins the public domain in 43 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 20: Alfred North Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World includes a nuanced discussion of science and religion differing notably from many of his contemporaries’. (A recent review of it.) It joins the US public domain in 6 weeks.

November 21: Algonquin Round Table member Robert Benchley tried reporting, practical writing, & reviews, but soon found that humorous essays & stories were his forte. One early collection, Pluck and Luck, joins the public domain in 41 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 22: I’ve often heard people coming across a piano sit down & pick out Hoagy Carmichael’s “Heart and Soul”. He also had other hits, one being “Washboard Blues“. His original piano instrumental version becomes public domain in 40 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 23: Harpo Marx, the Marx Brothers mime, was born today in 1888. In his oldest surviving film, “Too Many Kisses” he does “speak”, but silently (like everyone else in it), without his brothers. It joins the public domain in 39 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 24: In The Man Nobody Knows, Bruce Barton likened the world of Jesus to the world of business. Did he bring scriptural insight to management, or subordinate Christianity to capitalism? It’ll be easier to say, & show, after it goes public domain in 38 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 25: Before Virgil Thomson (born today in 1896) was well-known as a composer, he wrote a music column for Vanity Fair. His first columns, and the rest of Vanity Fair for 1925, join the public domain in 37 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 26: “Each moment that we’re apart / You’re never out of my heart / I’d rather be lonely and wait for you only / Oh how I miss you tonight” Those staying safe by staying apart this holiday might appreciate this song, which joins the public domain in 36 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown (The song, “Oh, How I Miss You Tonight” is by Benny Davis, Joe Burke, and Mark Fisher, was published in 1925, and performed and recorded by many musicians since then, some of whom are mentioned in this Wikipedia article.)

November 27: Feminist author Katharine Anthony, born today in 1877, was best known for her biographies. Her 1925 biography of Catherine the Great, which drew extensively on the empress’s private memoirs, joins the public domain in 35 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 28: Tonight in 1925 “Barn Dance” (soon renamed “Grand Ole Opry”) debuted in Nashville. Most country music on it & similar shows then were old favorites, but there were new hits too, like “The Death of Floyd Collins”, which joins the public domain in 34 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown (The song, with words by Andrew Jenkins and music by John Carson, was in the line of other disaster ballads that were popular in the 1920s. This particular disaster had occurred earlier in the year, and became the subject of song, story, drama, and film.)

November 29: As many folks get ready for Christmas, many Christmas-themed works are also almost ready to join the public domain in 33 days. One is The Holly Hedge, and Other Christmas Stories by Temple Bailey. More on the book & author. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

November 30: In 1925 John Maynard Keynes published The Economic Consequences of Sterling Parity objecting to Winston Churchill returning the UK to the gold standard. That policy ended in 1931; the book’s US copyright lasted longer, but will finally end in 32 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 1: Du Bose Heyward’s novel Porgy has a distinguished legacy of adaptations, including a 1927 Broadway play, and Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess”. When the book joins the public domain a month from now, further adaptation possibilities are limitless. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 2: In Dorothy Black’s Romance — The Loveliest Thing a young Englishwoman “inherits a small sum of money, buys a motor car and goes off in search of adventure and romance”. First serialized in Ladies’ Home Journal, it joins the public domain in 30 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 3: Joseph Conrad was born on this day in 1857, and died in 1924, leaving unfinished his Napoleonic novel Suspense. But it was still far enough along to get serialized in magazines and published as a book in 1925, and it joins the public domain in 29 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 4: Ernest Hemingway’s first US-published story collection In Our Time introduced his distinctive style to an American audience that came to view his books as classics of 20th century fiction: It joins the public domain in 28 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 5: Libertarian author Rose Wilder Lane helped bring her mother’s “Little House” fictionalized memoirs into print. Before that, she published biographical fiction based on the life of Jack London, called He Was a Man. It joins the public domain in 27 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 6: Indiana naturalist and author Gene Stratton-Porter died on this day in 1924. Her final novel, The Keeper of the Bees, was published the following year, and joins the public domain in 26 days. One review. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 7: Willa Cather was born today in 1873. Her novel The Professor’s House depicts 1920s cultural dislocation from a different angle than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s better-known Great Gatsby. It too joins the public domain in 25 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 8: The last symphony published by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (born on this day in 1865) is described in the Grove Dictionary as his “most remarkable compositional achievement”. It joins the public domain in the US in 24 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 9: When the Habsburg Empire falls, what comes next for the people & powers of Vienna? The novel Old Wine, by Phyllis Bottome (wife of the local British intelligence head) depicts a society undergoing rapid change. It joins the US public domain in 23 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 10: Lewis Browne was “a world traveler, author, rabbi, former rabbi, lecturer, socialist and friend of the literary elite”. His first book, Stranger than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews, joins the public domain in 22 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 11: In 1925, John Scopes was convicted for teaching evolution in Tennessee. Books explaining the science to lay audiences were popular that year, including Henshaw Ward’s Evolution for John Doe. It becomes public domain in 3 weeks. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 12: Philadelphia artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris was best known for his “Pageant of a Nation” paintings. Three of them, “The Birth of Pennsylvania”, “Gettysburg, 1863”, and “The Mayflower Compact”, join the public domain in 20 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 13: The Queen of Cooks, and Some Kings was a memoir of London hotelier Rosa Lewis, as told to Mary Lawton. Her life story was the basis for the BBC and PBS series “The Duchess of Duke Street”. It joins the public domain in 19 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 14: Today we’re celebrating new films being added to the National Film Registry. In 18 days, we can also celebrate more Registry films joining the public domain. One is The Clash of the Wolves, starring Rin Tin Tin. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 15: Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, daughter of a high-ranking Japanese official, moved to the US in an arranged marriage after her family fell on hard times. Her 1925 memoir, A Daughter of the Samurai, joins the public domain in 17 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 16: On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs compiled by Dorothy Scarborough assisted by Ola Lee Gulledge, has over 100 songs. Scarborough’s next of kin (not Gulledge, or any of their sources) renewed its copyright in 1953. But in 16 days, it’ll be free for all. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 17: Virginia Woolf’s writings have been slowly entering the public domain in the US. We’ve had the first part of her Mrs. Dalloway for a while. The complete novel, and her first Common Reader essay collection, join it in 15 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 18: Lovers in Quarantine with Harrison Ford sounds like a movie made for 2020, but it’s actually a 1925 silent comedy (with a different Harrison Ford). It’ll be ready to go out into the public domain after a 14-day quarantine. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 19: Ma Rainey wrote, sang, and recorded many blues songs in a multi-decade career. Two of her songs becoming public domain in 13 days are “Shave ’em Dry” (written with William Jackson) & “Army Camp Harmony Blues” (with Hooks Tilford). #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 20: For years we’ve celebrated the works of prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton as her stories join the public domain. In 12 days, The Writing of Fiction, her book on how she writes her memorable tales, will join that company. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 21: Albert Payson Terhune, born today in 1872, raised and wrote about dogs he kept at what’s now a public park in New Jersey. His book about Wolf, who died heroically and is buried there, will also be in the public domain in 11 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 22: In the 1920s it seemed Buster Keaton could do anything involving movies. Go West, a 1925 feature film that he co-wrote, directed, co-produced, and starred in, is still enjoyed today, and it joins the public domain in 10 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 23: In 9 days, not only will Theodore Dreiser’s massive novel An American Tragedy be in the public domain, but so will a lot of the raw material that went into it. Much of it is in @upennlib‘s special collections. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 24: Johnny Gruelle, born today in 1880, created the Raggedy Ann doll, and a series of books sold with it that went under many Christmas trees. Two of them, Raggedy Ann’s Alphabet Book and Raggedy Ann’s Wishing Pebble, join the public domain in 8 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 25: Written in Hebrew by Joseph Klausner, translated into English by Anglican priest Herbert Danby, Jesus of Nazareth reviewed Jesus’s life and teachings from a Jewish perspective. It made a stir when published in 1925, & joins the public domain in 7 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 26: “It’s a travesty that this wonderful, hilarious, insightful book lives under the inconceivably large shadow cast by The Great Gatsby.” A review of Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, also joining the public domain in 6 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 27: “On revisiting Manhattan Transfer, I came away with an appreciation not just for the breadth of its ambition, but also for the genius of its representation.” A review of the John Dos Passos novel becoming public domain in 5 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 28: All too often legal systems and bureaucracies can be described as “Kafkaesque”. The Kafka work most known for that sense of arbitrariness and doom is Der Prozess (The Trial), reviewed here. It joins the public domain in 4 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 29: Chocolate Kiddies, an African American music and dance revue that toured Europe in 1925, featured songs by Duke Ellington and Jo Trent including “Jig Walk”, “Jim Dandy”, and “With You”. They join the public domain in 3 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

December 30: Lon Chaney starred in 2 of the top-grossing movies of 1925. The Phantom of the Opera has long been in the public domain due to copyright nonrenewal. The Unholy Three, which was renewed, joins it in the public domain in 2 days. #PublicDomainDayCountdown (If you’re wondering why some of the other big film hits of 1925 haven’t been in this countdown, in many cases it’s also because their copyrights weren’t renewed. Or they weren’t actually copyrighted in 1925.)

December 31: “…You might as well live.” Dorothy Parker published “Resumé” in 1925, and ultimately outlived most of her Algonquin Round Table-mates. This poem, and her other 1925 writing for periodicals, will be in the public domain tomorrow. #PublicDomainDayCountdown

About John Mark Ockerbloom

I'm a digital library strategist at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
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3 Responses to Counting down to 1925 in the public domain

  1. Brent Reid says:

    A great, useful list but it’s one year premature regarding Alfred Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden: https://www.brentonfilm.com/articles/alfred-hitchcock-collectors-guide-the-pleasure-garden-1925

    • Thanks for your comment! Determining the date of restored copyrights like this one can be tricky, since there’s often no registration that unambiguously gives a date for the start of the copyright term. If I recall correctly, my basis for assuming a 1925 start date (and therefore a 2020 end date) was a 1925 release of the film in Germany stated at places like IMDB. The article linked above disputes this release date, with the author citing a lack of contemporary evidence of general public release (either in Germany or elsewhere) prior to 1926. If the film’s US copyright term does start in 1926, as that would suggest, the film would indeed have one more year of copyright, and enter the public domain in 2022. Folks wanting to use this film before then should check the facts carefully before assuming its public domain, and I’ll add a note to my post warning about this.

      Thanks again!

      • Brent Reid says:

        You’re welcome but you can’t be expected to know every exact release or publication date, though it does highlight the danger of assuming they match the date of filming or completion. Also as per the article, it’s perhaps worth providing a little context as to what “public domain” actually entails, i.e. which copies can be used and which cannot.

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