This post was co-written with Bryan Cornell and Karen Fishman.
We hope we can be forgiven the stern tone of this blog’s name, but we couldn’t resist the pun.
Welcome to the inaugural post of Now See Hear!, a blog devoted to sharing information about and content from the collections of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The NAVCC exists in two geographic locales: the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, and two research centers—one for recorded sound and the other for moving images—in the Library’s Madison Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The NAVCC preserves and makes accessible more audiovisual content than any other archive in the world, and we’re very excited by the prospect of using this blog to share our riches with a wider audience.
Our ambition for Now See Hear! is limited only by our imaginations, which aren’t very limited at all. The blog will showcase collections, announce new acquisitions and projects, publicize our public programs and introduce you to our amazingly talented staff. We’ll highlight work of our audio, film and video preservation laboratories and contextualize an amazing variety of audiovisual content for your viewing/listening pleasure, including highlights from both the National Film and Recording Registries.
We’ll feature posts that focus on collections and resources of potential interest to K-12 educators and students, as well as information about us – whether related to reference, acquisition, storage, cataloging, preservation or technology.
It promises to be a lot of fun for us and, we trust, for you. Here are some appetizers to whet the palate:
“In Washington,” sung by Billy Murray, was written by Vincent Bryan with music by Gertrude Hoffmann, for the 1907 hit Broadway musical A Parisian Model. The show was produced by Florenz Ziegfield and starred Anna Held, French actress and comedienne.
Murray was perhaps the most prolific recording artist of the acoustic recording era. He was most famous for Irish dialect comic songs, but he could also handle ragtime and African American dialect material with ease, along with sentimental songs and Tin Pan Alley and Broadway material.
In 1939, the same year they released Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Columbia Pictures produced a series of shorts under the banner Washington Parade. Included were films about the White House, the Capitol, and us. “The Library of Congress” is a fascinating look at our institution, even if its numerous shots of ungloved hands pawing priceless books and pamphlets is a bit discomfiting (our practices are better now, promise). Preserved by our film laboratory from original 35mm nitrate picture and soundtrack camera negatives in the AFI/Columbia Collection, we’re delighted to present the film with the kind permission of Sony Pictures.