The following is a guest post by Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division.
It’s been quite the musical month at the Library: just this past week, the newest additions to the National Recording Registry were announced. This made me think of music’s role in my day-to-day life. Sing-alongs with 2013’s Gershwin Prize honoree Carole King jumpstart my mornings and the Staples Sisters provide the perfect score for afternoon chores. My multi-tasking listening style sparked an idea to see how pictures have captured the ways others have used sound.
As I combed through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog for evidence of listening habits, I saw recorded sound used as an educational tool. Here we have children in Sikkim using “teaching machines,” and students at a New York school for those with visual impairments listening to a lesson.
My thoughts of a typical summer filled with crafts and outdoor activities were quickly turned around with this image of young campers huddled around turntables.
Solo listening parties in the collection are plentiful. Often, one is “plugged” in and seated, such as this woman. Her shut-in outfit is dressed to impress – complete with the shoes! – perhaps as a nod of respect to her listening content.
I think we all can relate to this perched woman with a record album catalog, as she searches for the perfect sound to fill the silence.
We may listen for different reasons and in various ways, though one thing’s for certain: sound continues to move us.
- The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLSBPH) provides free recorded materials for people with disabilities. Read more about the talking book program on the NLSBPH website.
- The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center blog, Now See Hear!, is a great way to become familiar with the Library’s music holdings and gain a better understanding of music history. Don’t have your own record player? Be sure to stream the Library of Congress National Jukebox. While you’re at it, read the official announcements about 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry, and Carole King’s 2013 Gershwin Prize.
- The Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information collection in the Prints & Photographs Division highlights the popularity of gathering around and listening to music and other programming.
- Previous Picture This! posts have noted the popularity of sound and listening, covering topics such as jazz, fireside chats, and the World Series.