The “2019 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual” is really the first public facing effort of the Alliance. The publication serves as a true professional journal publication, helping to move forward the concept of professional Disney history. The journey fills a niche found in other historical societies by allowing members to provide the community professionally researched and written short articles on Disney history topics. And the publication truly feels like a professional journal with serious historical scholarship. Perhaps the only things missing are book reviews, calls for papers and membership opportunities (which is not available at this time.)
The “2019 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual” offers six articles. The topics range from profiles of former Disney employees who are generally not known in the Disney community, two articles on Ward Kimball, and The Little Mermaid. The topics establish that the Alliance covers numerous decades of Disney history. The articles are all generally written as one would expect a historical journal article, professional, lacking a fan voice and relying heavily on primary sources many of which are not available to the general public. And overall, the authors succeed in providing a professional historical journal complete in tone and style.
Content wise, I really enjoyed “Jack Cutting, an Artist Abroad” by Jim Hollifield. The article did an excellent job of capturing the life of Cutting from artist to Disney executive working with international markets. Cutting served as an employee who could unite the Walt and Roy sides of the company. But perhaps what struck me the most is how examining one individual can show us historical trends at large. This lesson was most highlighted for me in Past Time by Jules Tygiel. While this monograph is focused on baseball, it demonstrates important immigration and industrialization trends in American history. The Cutting article demonstrates how corporate America functioned in a post-World War II environment and the growth of international markets for American businesses.
Sadly, the article I would have liked to see excluded is one of the best written, “Ward Kimball and the Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” by Todd James Pierce. I really enjoy Pierce’s written. But much of this content is already available in The Life and Times of Ward Kimball, an excellent monograph. Additionally, Pierce also adapted this content in an audio form as a podcast. And his work is so successful, I actually read the article hearing his voice including pauses and inflection. But I would have really enjoyed new content from this excellent historian, as I believe the audience for the annual may have likely read the Kimball book already like I have.
As someone with two history degrees I really support the idea of professional Disney history. And I plan to look into the both the monographs and future annuals. If anything I would ask right now is how can I support this effort? Membership at the moment is closed to the association. And there are no casual or supporter memberships. I am fully prepared to purchase the future offerings. But I do wonder if in the future there could be membership options like The Society of Baseball Research, which would offer merchandise or provide avenues for publication. Because the “2019 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual” makes me hopeful for future of professional Disney history along with a desire to help.