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  • Writer's pictureBecky Fifield

Museum Monday – WNYC Municipal Archives Online

Back in May, I gave a lecture on collections emergency preparedness at the New York Archives Conference. It was supposed to be a roundtable during which institutions shared their preparedness experiences and ideas, but seeing as Heritage Preservation’s Heritage Health Index project discovered that 80% of cultural institutions do not have an emergency plan that is trained, it ended up being a 1.5 hour lecture. When I signed up to do the lecture, I didn’t realize that the conference was being held at LIU’s Post Campus in Brookville. It was a 4 hour round trip between the Long Island Rail Road (my first trip) and local bus service.

While I was waiting for my session to begin, I checked out the poster session next door. I found someone working on a digitization project of segments from WNYC radio interviews, from 1924 to 1997, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The presenters had attached headphones and an iPod with clips of interviews from their digitization project. Many of the recordings were created on unique 16″ transcription discs, which were fragile and at risk of deterioration.  The recordings were cataloged and digitized, and you can listen to over 100 of these recordings  on the WNYC website.

Listen to Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957. Hear Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss and Irving Fine discuss what exactly is American music in 1950. Tune into Harry Mustard, NYC’s Health Commission, give a report on the health of New Yorkers in 1947. It’s an invaluable resource with the leading thinkers of those eras, especially for social historians. I listen to WNYC today for intelligence seriously lacking in so many other media channels today – it’s why I’m member (and you should be too – become a member of your local NPR station).

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