Author Archives: Gerald Seligman

National Recording Preservation Foundation Distributes $50,000 in 4 Grants for Audio Preservation

National Recording Preservation Foundation Distributes $50,000 in 4 Grants for Audio Preservation

October 30, 2018

The National Recording Preservation Foundation Grant Program announced today $50,000 awarded in 4 grants for the preservation of music, broadcast and spoken word. The grants cover collections, culture and history from throughout the United States. The grants are made possible by funds authorized through The Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act of 2016, secured through the leadership of the Library of Congress, and the contributions of public-spirited donors.

“It is our commitment to help preserve audio recordings in a broad variety of areas by partnering with the country’s most effective archives, not-for-profit media outlets, libraries and foundations,” said NRPF Executive Director Gerald Seligman. “For this series of grants, we sought to support projects in broadcast, music, journalism and spoken word, all the areas of our concentration.”

The National Recording Preservation Foundation mission is to help find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States and help recuperate collections housed within the United States.

The grants went to the following organizations:

WYSO / Survey of the Broadcast Archives of Historically Black Colleges / Universities

“Nearly a third of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have radio stations,” says Jocelyn Robinson, project director, “and many went on the air during the Civil Rights era, fifty or more years ago. Much of the material created at these stations during the struggle for equality and beyond is now at risk, as magnetic tape and other obsolete formats deteriorate. But we won’t know what needs preservation until we survey the content and conditions of the radio archives on HBCU campuses. What we discover could have enormous potential for podcasts, radio and film documentaries, and museum exhibitions, allowing students, researchers, media producers, and communities to remember, honor and be inspired by the voices of this important legacy.”

Thirty radio stations in thirteen states and the District of Columbia have been identified. They are as diverse as HBCUs themselves – public/private, large/small, rural/urban – and range in geography from the Deep South to the Midwest, from the Eastern Seaboard to the Great Plains. The report will be accessible to the radio stations, the various campus communities involved, and to all students, faculty, scholars, researchers, and media producers wishing to access these important and as yet untapped resources.

Arhoolie – The Harry Oster Collection of Field Recordings

“The funds will allow us to digitally preserve and create selected online access to a one-of-a-kind collection of field recordings made by the late folklorist and independent producer Dr. Harry Oster between 1956 and 1980,” says Adam Machado, Executive Director/Project Director fo the Arhoolie Foundation. “Captured on reel-to-reel tape, primarily in Louisiana and Iowa, this documentary collection features well-known regional musicians such as Gary Davis, Son House, Robert Pete Williams, Fred McDowell, and many obscure deep tradition artists.”

“Arhoolie is a national – and international – treasure, toiling away for decades to record and now preserve regional music from the United States and Mexico,” says NRPF Executive Director Gerald Seligman. “Chris Strachwitz and his team are models to follow in how to value and pass on milestones in popular music.”

On the Media / WNYC

The funds will allow WNYC Archives to continue cataloging On the Media broadcasts and to make the contents accessible to scholars, journalists and the general public through the website wnyc.org, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB).

On the Media has been the only weekly radio program on both public and commercial radio to consistently address the impact and influence of media and the changing media landscape on contemporary western culture for the last 25 years.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized and supported by the NRPF and the Library of Congress for our project digitizing the On the Media archives,” says Andy Lanset, WNYC’s Director of Archives. “This funding will ensure that a pioneering broadcast collection will continue to illuminate and provide a context to history that scholars can draw upon for years to come.”
“The NRPF is honored to help preserve the interviews from two of the finest journalists at work,” says Gerald Seligman, “Week after week, year after year, Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield turn in some of the best, most incisive and extensive interviews on radio. Preserving them is a necessity for future historians, scholars, students, the public.”

Other Minds for preservation of interviews from the Composer-to-Composer Festival
Other Minds in San Francisco will digitize, catalog, and preserve a collection of DAT tapes dating from 1988-1991 documenting various conversations, lectures, interviews, and performances presented at the Composer-to Composer Festival in Telluride, Colorado.

“The collection comprises approximately 120 hours of recordings as well as numerous ephemeral items related to the festival,” says Charles Amirkhanian, Executive & Artistic Director of Other Minds. “During those four years, the festival hosted numerous emerging and illustrious composers including John Cage, Lou Harrison, Joan La Barbara, Laurie Anderson, Anthony Davis, Terry Riley, Conlon Nancarrow, Pauline Oliveros, and many more.”

The National Recording Preservation Foundation is an independent 501(C)3 mandated by an act of Congress to find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States – its music, broadcast, speeches and spoken word. The Foundation helps develop strategies, coordinate policies and fund the preservation of “The Sound of America.”

RIAA – The Recording Industry Association of America – Supports NRPF With a Grant

September 11, 2018

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has made a generous contribution to the National Recording Preservation Foundation (NRPF), a project dedicated to helping to preserve recorded sound.

RIAA is pleased to contribute to the important work of the NRPF to protect and preserve sound recordings for future generations of music fans,” said David Hughes. RIAA’s Chief Technology Officer. “These recordings are etched in our history and have shaped our culture in profound ways. We are grateful to the NRPF and look forward to our continued partnership.”

The National Recording Preservation Foundation mission is to help find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States and help recuperate collections housed within the United States. These include international assets. Music, broadcast, speeches, spoken word – saved for all time. It does this by offering grants to not-for-profit archives in libraries, universities, foundations and elsewhere.

We are honored by the RIAA’s generous support for your preservation efforts,” said NRPF’s Executive Director, Gerald Seligman. “It goes such a long way in helping us support the preservation of our audio heritage. With contributions such as these the RIAA demonstrates how they look back to preserve even as the move ever-forward to develop new generations of recording artists.”

National Recording Preservation Awards Grant to Preserve Mike Seeger Collection

National Recording Preservation Foundation Grants University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $25,000 for Audio Preservation

The National Recording Preservation Foundation Grant Program announced today a $25,000 grant to the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to help support archiving and preservation of more than 600 hours of rare sound recordings recorded by traditional musician and folklorist Mike Seeger.

The National Recording Preservation Foundation is an independent 401(C)3 mandated by an act of Congress to find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States – its music, broadcast, speeches and spoken word. The Foundation helps develop strategies, coordinate policies and fund the preservation of “The Sound of America.”

Says Executive Director Gerald Seligman, “The Southern Folklife Collection is an exemplary effort to locate, preserve and provide access to the cultural treasures of the extended region. The NRPF is proud to assist them in assuring Mike Seeger’s seminal collection will be available to students, researchers – and fans.”

Mike Seeger (1933-2009) was born into the first family of American folk music. His mother and father, Ruth Crawford Seeger and Charles Seeger, assisted John and Alan Lomax at the Archive of Folksong in the Library of Congress. His brother Pete was a member of the Almanac Singers and the Weavers, while his sister Peggy is highly regarded in traditional music circles. In 1958, Seeger helped form the seminal group the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR), a musical trio reviving old-time string-band music from the 1920s and 30s. The NLCR greatly influenced several generations of musicians, including their contemporary, Bob Dylan.

From 1950s to the 2000s Mike Seeger collected interviews, made field and studio recordings with traditional musicians as well as documented their live performances and those of the NLCR. A number of the field recordings in the Seeger collection are the original unedited masters for classic releases Seeger produced for Folkways Records (now Smithsonian Folkways) and Rounder Records. The Mike Seeger Collection provides invaluable documentation of the folk revival movement and historic performances by the finest traditional musicians of the era including those by Elizabeth Cotton, Hazel Dickens, Tommy Jarrell, Bill Monroe, Roscoe Holcomb, Almeda Riddle and many others.

This grant allows us to preserve these national treasures and provide online access to the recordings for the first time,” says Steve Weiss, Curator of the Southern Folklife Collection.

Once digitized, the materials will be accessible online through the Southern Folklife Collection website.

http://library.unc.edu/wilson/sfc/

National Recording Preservation Foundation Gives Grant for Orson Welles Preservation

Rare Orson Welles recordings to be preserved and shared through Indiana University Libraries and the National Recording Preservation Foundation.
April 26th 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – With the assistance of a $25,000 grant from the National Recording Preservation Foundation to Indiana University Libraries, the university will preserve rare, original recordings of “The Orson Welles Show.” The live radio series produced by its iconic host and namesake debuted Sept. 15, 1941.

Previously, internet sites and books have stated that only eight of the 19 “Orson Welles Show” broadcasts have survived.

An IU-led preservation and digitization project, titled “Orson Welles on the Air,” will reveal the truth: Original lacquer discs containing 14 of the broadcasts, as well as other supposedly lost recordings, had been secured by Indiana University Libraries’ Lilly Library, one of the nation’s premier rare book and special collection libraries.

Preservation is a priority for the university, said Carolyn Walters, the Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries. As co-chair of IU President Michael A. McRobbie’s Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, Walters helps oversee the mission of safeguarding unique and rare media, such as the Welles discs.

“Considering the number of unusually rich holdings at Indiana University, MDPI is a remarkable and bold commitment, drawing well-deserved national attention,” Walters said. “We are proud to be a leader in preservation through MDPI, and to partner with the National Recording Preservation Foundation to save and share these Orson Welles treasures.”

Together, the “Orson Welles on the Air” materials represent the most complete original source of audio for Welles’ radio work during the late 1930s and 1940s, with the highest extant sound quality.

Erika Dowell, head of public services at the Lilly Library, said that along with digitization, the “Orson Welles on the Air” project will include the creation of an interactive website to provide context for the collections. Librarians will build an imaginative online experience, where users will be able to stream audio of the recordings, search Welles’ scripts and access expert commentary.

In announcing its grant to “Orson Welles on the Air,” National Recording Preservation Foundation Executive Director Gerald Seligman said: “That there were so many extant scripts and vulnerable recordings immediately piqued our interest. That they were housed in Indiana’s venerable Lilly Library gave us great confidence that such an important collection was in the right restorative hands. This aligns well with the NRPF’s mission: acting quickly to save original, master recordings in danger of degradation and loss. These contain episodes that do not survive anywhere else.”

The National Recording Preservation Foundation is an independent 401(c)3 mandated by an act of Congress to find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States: its music, broadcast, speeches and spoken word. The foundation helps develop strategies, coordinate policies and fund the preservation of “The Sound of America.”

Mike Casey, IU’s director of technical operations for the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, said the foundation’s grant will assist digitization experts as they embark upon the preservation of 324 master sound recordings in the form of lacquer discs and about 100 accompanying paper scripts. The script pages show tangible evidence of Welles’ creative process in their dramatic deletions and seemingly last-minute rewrites.

Casey appreciates the rapid action by the National Recording Preservation Foundation, allowing the first stages of the project to begin in late summer 2016.

“Most lacquer discs have an aluminum or glass base with a black lacquer coating,” he said. “It contains the grooves that carry the sound. This is not a safe way to store a treasure — lacquer discs are inherently chemically unstable and sometimes fail catastrophically.”

Lilly Library records show that in the last three years alone, 90 researchers — from 19 states and 11 countries — have accessed the library’s extensive collection of Welles manuscripts. For scholars, it is a treasure house with its holdings of canonical Welles series such as “Mercury Theater on the Air,” “Campbell Playhouse” and the most complete known set of “The Doorway to Life.”

Despite renewed interest in Welles’ radio innovations, the body of recordings available for study has remained incomplete. A portion of the material to be digitized is, in fact, already available through other channels. The sound quality can be uneven, however, as some recordings are the result of multiple generations of copying by amateur tape-traders.

For Seligman, the proven commitment to open access at IU’s Lilly Library was a major motivation in supporting the Welles project.

“This is an exciting contribution to the legacy of American radio,” he said. “Orson Welles was a major creative force, responsible for some of the era’s most acclaimed innovations. He virtually invented narrative radio. The National Recording Preservation Foundation exists to find treasures such as these, and we are thrilled to find a credible partner at IU with the capacity and expertise to make them available to everyone.”