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Digitizing My Van Halen Archives

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

I have boxes full of research from previous books and articles, especially from my days as a music journalist (I still own if anyone is interested).

I was putting off digitizing my mountains of articles, documents, letters, and manuscripts until I had a good high-speed scanner. It’s been many years, but I finally broke down recently and bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500. It’s incredibly fast. I love it.

This opened a can of a hundred projects.

One of them is the scanning of my Van Halen archive. It’s full of rare articles and documents. It’s part of a plan I have to create the largest, searchable text database of Van Halen information (at least that I know of).


If you’re updating a Van Halen book, or working on any kind of new Van Halen project (I have a dozen in my back pocket), you might want to search everything that has been written or said about a certain song in the last 30-40 years. You might even be able to build a day-by-day timeline of everything we now know (as was done for The Beatles).

Up until now, that was not possible without years of research. Making it possible involves not just the scanning I’m doing, but the mining of the email archives of the Van Halen mailing lists. That’s not easy either. There used to be scripts for it, but they stopped working long ago. If you know your way around scraping info off sites, let me know, because this is a part of the project I could use help with.

If I could get the permissions of all involved, I’d just post it all online in one place. That’s probably the biggest hurdle. But until then, the database will be used to update the Van Halen Encyclopedia as well as other projects I dropped in the past because of the level of research needed.

I’ve already started the scanning, and the OCR is working great. There’s so many possibilities.

Another reason I’m doing this: it’s practice. I’m going to use this base of knowledge about something I find interesting to build skills in areas of publishing I’ve long wanted to try out. If any of them turn out to be good, I’ll release them here.

Have no doubt, this is crazy. But it’s also fun.