{ subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/navcc.php' }

Santa Claus Speaks!

This blog post was co-written with Bryan Cornell, Reference Librarian, Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress.

 

Cover, Voice of Victor, 1917, Jim Walsh Collection, Recorded Sound Section

Cover, Voice of Victor, 1917, Jim Walsh Collection, Recorded Sound Section

Tis the season for Christmas carols and familiar holiday favorites, but did you know Santa Claus recorded for Victor Records?

Gilbert Girard, 1913.  Jim Walsh Collection, Recorded Sound, MBRS

Gilbert Girard, 1913. Jim Walsh Collection, Recorded Sound Section.

Well, not really. Gilbert Girard was a talented performer who frequently recorded children’s records with popular recording artist Len Spencer.  He also specialized in recitations and animal imitations, a talent for which he was prolific and well-known. He  recorded a series of children’s recordings playing Santa Claus. These novelty records, made from 1918 until 1922, were produced especially for the children’s market and  heavily promoted during the holiday season. They featured nursery rhymes, animal noises and many other sound effects. In fact, Girard was something of a practical joker and used his animal imitations to good effect when he visited Africa.  According to Jim Walsh, whose personal papers are held by the Recorded Sound Section at the Library of Congress, “[Girard] sat up all night in his hotel room, roaring like a lion and frightening everyone. . . into believing that a man-eater was parked just outside.”

Ad from Voice of Victor, 1921.  Jim Walsh Collection, Recorded Sound Collection

Ad from Voice of Victor, 1921. Jim Walsh Collection, Recorded Sound Collection

In the first recording, Santa Claus Tells About His Toy Shop, Santa arrives on his sleigh, complete with bells and galloping reindeer. Greeting all the children, he describes his toy shop  as being deep within a “mighty cave aglow with a million lights.”  Inside his workshop are living models of “all the beasts of the earth and birds of the air” which Girard imitates with an impressive selection of  howling animals,  singing birds, and growling polar bears. By the end of the record, Santa promises to come back and tell how he gave away all his toys.

Santa Claus Gives Away His Toys is next in the series.  Santa arrives in his sleigh and invites everyone to climb aboard and accompany him as he delivers his presents. The journey takes Santa and friends over mountains and rivers, the twinkling lights of a city and finally everyone lands on the roof of a house. Down the chimney Santa goes, visiting each sleeping family member in their rooms, and bestowing a perfect gift. Next stop is a church and Santa leaves many toys and presents for all.

 

Enjoy listening to Santa, and we wish you a wonderful Holiday!

 

 

 

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (December 17-19, 2015)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson, an Administrative Assistant at the Packard Campus. Thursday, December 17 (7:30 p.m.) We’re No Angels (Paramount, 1955) Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov play three escaped inmates from Devil’s Island who concoct a plan to steal from a shopkeeper on Christmas. Their plans change when […]

Honoring Frank Sinatra on His Birthday

This post was co-written with Bryan Cornell and Karen Fishman. On the 100th birthday of Francis Albert Sinatra, the Library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center recognizes Ol’ Blue Eyes’ contributions to both sight and sound. Sinatra, who appeared in more than 50 movies, starred in the 1945 RKO  short film The House I Live In, which […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (December 10-12, 2015)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson, an Administrative Assistant at the Packard Campus. Thursday, December 10 (7:30 p.m.) The Lemon Drop Kid (Paramount, 1951) Bob Hope stars as The Lemon Drop Kid, a small-time New York City swindler who is illegally touting horses at a racetrack. When he accidentally cheats a notorious […]

Duke Ellington on the National Film Registry: Jam Session (1942)

The Library always announces new additions to the National Film Registry in December, and this year will be no different. The National Film Preservation Board had its annual meeting in October to, among other things, advise Acting Librarian David S. Mao on Registry selections. Once they’re announced, the final 25 selections will bring the total […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (December 3-5, 2015)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson , an Administrative Assistant at the Packard Campus. Thursday, December 3 (7:30 p.m.) Love Actually (Universal, 2003 – R-rated *) The intertwining stories of more than twenty characters in London, England, are followed during the busy month leading up to Christmas in this romantic comedy written […]

Gay Cinema/Lost Cinema: “Children of Loneliness” (1935)

Last year the Library published The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912-1929, a sobering reminder of the astonishingly poor survival rate of this one sliver of motion picture history. And it’s not just silent features either. Although no comprehensive study has been done of shorts, features, and documentaries across all of film history, the […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (November 19-21, 2015)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson, an Administrative Assistant at the Packard Campus. Thursday, November 19 (7:30 p.m.) Gimme Shelter (Cinema 5 Distributing, 1970 – R-rated *) This astounding documentary follows the Rolling Stones on the last ten days of their 1969 North American tour which ended with a disastrous day-long free […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (November 12-14, 2015)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson, an Administrative Assistant at the Packard Campus. Thursday, November 12 (7:30 p.m.) William Wellman Double Feature Wild Boys of the Road (Warner Bros., First National, 1933) Historians estimate that more than 250,000 American teens were living on the road at the height of the Great Depression, […]