Curator’s Picks: Signature Sounds

(The following is from the July/August 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Matt Barton in the Library’s Motion Picture and Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division discusses some of the nation’s most iconic radio broadcasts.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a Joint Session of Congress on Dec. 8, 1941—one day after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The president referred to Dec. 7 as “a date which will live in infamy.” Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the U.S. into World War II. “In his nine-minute speech, the president sought not only to rally the nation, but to provide the most accurate picture possible of the extent of the attacks made in the Pacific to that point, countering rumors but also conveying the seriousness of the situation.”
Weltbild Publishing Company, Prints and Photographs Division

Denied the right to sing at DAR Constitution Hall because of her race, contralto Marian Anderson performed an Easter Sunday concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939. The event drew an integrated audience of 75,000, including members of the Supreme Court, Congress and President Roosevelt’s cabinet. “News photos and newsreels of this event have become iconic, but millions of Americans experienced the radio broadcast first, live and in real time.”
Prints and Photographs Division, courtesy of the NAACP

In 1962, Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain shattered the NBA record by scoring 100 points in a single game. The game was broadcast only by a Philadelphia radio station and rebroadcast later that night. “Those broadcasts were lost but fortunately two fans recorded key portions of those broadcasts. The NBA eventually acquired both recordings.”
Prints and Photographs Division

WHO’S ON FIRST? 3c26194u.tif
Comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello first performed their now- legendary baseball sketch for a national radio audience on “The Kate Smith Hour” in March 1938. This broadcast is now lost, but in response to popular demand, the duo gave an encore performance later in the year, which survives.
New York World- Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division

Calvin Coolidge made history at his second inauguration on March 4, 1925. “It was the first time an inauguration was broadcast nationally on the new medium of radio, and it was carried on 30 stations nationwide.”
National Photo Company Collection, Prints and Photographs Division


All of the above radio broadcasts were selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry, which ensures their long-term preservation. 

Pic of the Week: Final Projects

On Wednesday, the Library of Congress Junior Fellows Summer Interns presented more than 100 rare and unique items from 17 Library divisions. The display provided the opportunity for fellows to discuss the historic significance of the collection items they have researched and processed during their 10-week internships. Some highlights included: an Olmec ceramic figurine (900-1200 […]

Saving the Sounds of Radio

(The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library’s staff newsletter, The Gazette, for the July-August 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The Library of Congress is working to preserve the nation’s historical broadcasts When Wilt Chamberlain smashed an NBA […]

Here’s to a Couple of Ruff Characters

Four hundred years ago this weekend, two of the greatest geniuses in wordcraft this world has ever seen both died: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. Shakespeare’s plays still dazzle, written though they are in Elizabethan English and iambic pentameter; their story lines are still fresh enough to inspire endless straight-play performance worldwide, Broadway musicals […]

Technology at the Library: StoryCorps Goes Global

(The following is an article by Nicole Saylor of the American Folklife Center for the March/April 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The StoryCorps oral history collection is growing through a new mobile app and website. In a matter of months last fall, […]

Library in the News: March 2016 Edition

Headlining Library of Congress news for March was the announcement of new selections to the National Recording Registry. Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post spoke with singer Gloria Gaynor, whose “I Will Survive” was one of the selections. “For Gaynor, the Library of Congress honor simply acknowledges what the world has already figured out,” he […]

Saving America’s Radio Heritage

(The following is a guest post by Gene DeAnna, head of the recorded sound section in the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.) I’m often asked what sound recordings are most at risk of being lost before we are able to preserve them. The fact is, the two-headed monster of physical degradation and […]

Good Timing for a Sliming

This year’s list of 25 noteworthy films named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry is out, and it includes some well-known favorites: “Ghostbusters,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Top Gun,” even the original Douglas Fairbanks vehicle “Zorro.”  Films are annually named to the registry that are culturally, historically or aesthetically important; the object is preservation […]

Their Own Words, in Their Own Voices

To read a poem is a quiet joy. To read some authors’ prose is as wonderful as reading a poem. It’s just the poet, or the writer, and you. Right there, in black and white. What could be better? How about hearing it “in color” as a poet or author reads to you from his […]

Be Kind to Books Club

The following post is by Lucy Jakub, one of the 36 college students who participated in the Library of Congress 2015 Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program. Jakub is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in creative nonfiction at Columbia University. Her independent work in graphic design led her to her internship with the Library’s Conservation Division, making […]