About the Exhibit
Volatile Attractions: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and Managing a Music Legend is a digital exhibit featuring materials from the archives of Saul Holiff, the Canadian manager of one of the most iconic figures in American music history: Johnny Cash. Holiff, who started out as a concert promoter in the late 1950s in London, Ontario, managed Cash from 1961-1973, by turns the most tumultuous and remarkable years of the singer’s life, and resigned at the pinnacle of Cash’s success. The collection, held in Special Collections at the University of Victoria Libraries, contains photographs, letters, audio recordings, diaries, gold records, and ephemera that Holiff carefully accumulated during his career and preserved until the end of his life.
Some of these materials have been cited in books and documentaries about Cash--including Johnny Cash: The Life (2013) by Robert Hilburn; Johnny Cash: The Biography (2006) by Michael Streissguth; The Man Called Cash (2004) by Steve Turner; and Half a Mile a Day
(2000) by Al Greenfield--and the fact that Cash biographers have
consistently sought access to Holiff's archives indicates how significant they are. But Holiff was also selective about what he shared when he
agreed to be interviewed. Only recent projects such as the award-winning
documentary My Father and the Man in Black (2013), written and directed by Holiff's son Jonathan, and the biography The Man Who Carried Cash: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and the Making of an American Icon (2017) by Julie Chadwick, have begun to represent the scope of the archives.
Kinds of material:
This exhibit focuses primarily on Holiff’s management years and
features photographs, contracts, ephemera, and correspondence that
document his relationship with Cash. But the archives also include many
items related to Holiff’s family, education, and personal beliefs on
religion, politics, and death, as well as extensive materials
related to the making of Jonathan Holiff’s documentary, My Father and the Man in Black.
The exhibit draws on these letters, photographs, diaries, and
interviews to represent the immense energy and care that Holiff
dedicated to successfully managing Cash, as well as the professional
disappointment and personal cost that accompanied that undertaking.
This website and the work behind it are the result of collaboration among several departments at the University of Victoria Libraries, notably Special Collections, the Digitization Centre, the Digital Scholarship Commons, and Metadata. The exhibit is a dynamic resource that will grow over time as we digitize additional material from our collections.
Lisa Abram, Communications Officer
Heather Dean, Associate Director, Special Collections
John Frederick, Library Assistant, Special Collections and University Archives
Lisa Goddard, Associate University Librarian, Digital Scholarship and Strategy
Josie Greenhill, Intern, Special Collections and University Archives
Lawrence Hong, Archives Assistant
J. Matthew Huculak, Digital Scholarship Librarian
Braydon Justice, Developer/Analyst, Digital Scholarship
Samantha MacFarlane, Digital Exhibit Designer
Kathy Mercer, Supervisor, Digitization Centre
Dean Seeman, Head, Metadata
Lara Wilson, Director of Special Collections and University Archivist
site was built using Blacklight, an open source, Ruby on Rails,
discovery and access engine for digital collections. The exhibit was
created with the Spotlight for Blacklight plugin.
History of Logo design and font:
logo for the site was is the logo that Saul Holiff used on his Volatile Attractions stationary.
Use and reproduction of digital materials:
University of Victoria Special Collections provides digitized materials from their collections
to support the teaching and research needs of the university community
and partners. Users may reproduce (print or download) items in this
collection for research, teaching, or private study. For all other uses,
Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-721-8257.
Citation of digital materials:
Libraries requests that materials reproduced from their digital
collections are properly cited, regardless of use. Citation should
include: title of the item; name of the collection / fonds it belongs
to; “University of Victoria Special Collections"; “Volatile Attractions digital collection”; url for the page the
item was found; date the item was viewed. For multi-page items, include
the name of the whole resource (e.g. “Saul Holiff's Personal Scrapbook”),
along with the page number, if available. You may find all of this
information in the beige box beneath each image.
"Saul Holiff and Bill Haley, 1959." Holiff Family fonds. University of Victoria Special Collections. Volatile Attractions digital collection. https://exhibits.library.uvic.ca/spotlight/holiff/catalog/11-13321. 4 June 2018.
Questions or comments about the materials represented on this site can be sent to Special Collections at the University of Victoria Libraries, email@example.com.