Remembering Cokie

Last spring, the National Archives Foundation Board voted to present the 2019 Records of Achievement Award to Cokie Roberts in recognition of her work as a journalist, political commentator, and historian.  With her untimely passing, last night’s award ceremony was, instead, a tribute program honoring her life and legacy.

Cokie dedicated her life to learning about and telling us the stories of women and their roles in our founding and in our government.  Her work extended far beyond the scope of well-known politicians and suffragists, often looking to ordinary women and their influence.  She did so much to highlight the contributions of other women, it was a privilege to honor Cokie for her many contributions at the National Archives. This past summer she graciously agreed to give the keynote at our annual Fourth of July celebration.  Her remarks brought attention to the forgotten women who helped contribute to independence and ultimately the right to vote.  In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, urging him to “remember the ladies,” and Cokie was determined to remember them as well.

As a member of the National Archives Foundation Board, Cokie worked tirelessly on behalf of our education and outreach activities.  Her wise counsel, intelligence, wit, and passion for the role of women in our society will be missed—but never forgotten.

Over ten years together, Cokie and I often found ourselves in the Rotunda of the National Archives where the conversation turned to the Barry Faulkner depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Cokie ALWAYS bemoaned the fact that there were no women depicted.

In Cokie’s honor, last night Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Martha Washington, and Eliza Hamilton joined the ranks through the magic of projection technology.  The National Archives Foundation commissioned Port Townsend (WA) artist Samara King to bring equality to the murals for the evening.

Cokie would have loved it!

New Digital Collection – The Talisman

may 1909 (1)

The Talisman was a student run publication that was active at Florida State College for Women (FSCW), FSU’s predecessor institution. The magazine was published quarterly by the Thalian Literary Society and the Minerva Club, the first two literary debate societies of FSCW. The first issue was published in 1906 and it ran until 1914, when it was turned into a weekly newspaper called the Florida Flambeau. As the students put it in the first ever issue of the Florida Flambeau in January 23rd, 1915, “Things happen so rapidly that once every three months makes a slow visitor.”

may 1909 (2)

The Talisman was the first college literary periodical to be published in Florida. Each issue featured student writings, editorials, campus news, and updates on all departments, including music and athletics. It included spaces for student notes and campus directories. Not only did The Talisman provide an avenue through which students could express their thoughts, it also was a way for students and surrounding communities to be informed as to the happenings of our campus.

The Talisman now exists as a time capsule for us. The writings of these students paint a picture of what student life was like in those years. We can also trace the progress and growth of our university through these publications by reading the departmental news from those early years. The Talisman can be found in DigiNole with our other publications here. If you have any questions about this collection please contact the Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry, at

Baking from the Archive

The NHS collections here at the University of Stirling Archives are consistently in our top three most used collections every year. I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority of enquiries we receive concern family history research which is always fascinating to undertake and we often have much to contribute. However, the NHS collections contain so much more than patient records with a wealth of varied material just waiting to be discovered. So this month, as Explore Your Archive launches, we’re inviting colleagues from all across the University, and members of the public too, to explore the theme of fundraising within the NHS collections with us.

To celebrate the theme, a baker’s dozen of colleagues from across Information Services will be recreating recipes from a cook book produced in 1925 to raise money for the new Falkirk Royal Infirmary. As much as Red Monkey chutney and stewed kidneys sounded delicious, we’ve stuck to cakes this time – teas and coffees will also be available so come along and join us for a mid-morning break in S10, Lower Studies Corridor, University Library (follow the colourful archive signs at the Atrium end of the Loch Bridge!) 10:00-12:00 on Thursday 21st November.

Recipes were sent in from all over the world

Choosing which recipes to bake was no mean feat but we’ve ended up with some well-known classics and some 1920s surprises, with a gluten free option available too. You’ll also have the chance to vote for your favourite gingerbread and sponge sandwich recipe from the book as some of our bakers go head to head with a few of the different available variations on these classics.

Whose will you prefer?

On the day we’ll be taking donations for Art Link who work to bring arts, crafts and creativity to patients across NHS Forth Valley. They will be using our donation for projects with mental health patients in the region.

Hope to see you there!

Roll up! Roll up! Fundraising posters from the Falkirk Royal Infirmary collection

Digitized photographs from the Hugh Pickett fonds now online!

You may remember our blog post from last October when we announced that the Hugh Pickett fonds was available to researchers in person at the Archives. Now, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, we are happy to announce that over 700 photographs from the fonds are now digitized and available online.

Hugh Pickett, ca. 1955. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F06-: 2014-089.0899

Hugh Pickett was best known as ‘Vancouver’s Impresario’. Pickett began his career working as a press agent for Hilker Attractions, and eventually ended up running the company with Holly Maxwell under the name Famous Artists Ltd. from 1947 until 1964. Famous Artists was an artistic management company dedicated to sponsoring appearances by artists and ballet and theatre companies in Vancouver and Victoria, and Pickett remained at the head of the company until he sold it in the mid 1980s.

Pickett was also heavily involved with Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) and was its manager from 1952 until 1954. Over the years, he brought hundreds of famous actors, musicians and performers to Vancouver and secured Vancouver’s spot on many international tours. He acted as the manager for Marlene Dietrich for 12 years in the 1960s and 70s, and also was a leader in the campaign to save the Orpheum Theatre in the 1970s.

George Landon, Holly Maxwell and Hugh Pickett, 1954. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F06-: 2014-089.0930

Pat Prowd, Mitzi Gaynor and Hugh Pickett, ca. 1980. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F06-: 2014-089.0970-: 2014-089.0970.1

Hugh Pickett’s photographs series contains photographs documenting Pickett’s life, work, and youth. Images depict various artists and celebrities, TUTS productions and personnel, social gatherings, political gatherings, Spitfire Fund events, local and international trips, and family and friends. The photographs present a rare and lighthearted look into Vancouver’s nightlife, theatre and fascination with celebrity. Please enjoy this small selection of photographs:

Hugh Pickett seated in a crib at a charity auction, 1977. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F06-: 2014-089.1007

Marcel Marceau and Michael Jackson, 1988. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F06-: 2014-089.0928

Hugh Pickett and Phyllis Filler at Plaza International,1979. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F01-: 2014-089.0609

Ron McDougall, Leontyne Price and Hugh Pickett, 1975. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F01-: 2014-089.0690

H.M. Queen Elizabeth at a command performance of “The Chocolate Soldier” at TUTS, 1959. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F06-: 2014-089.1010

Yvonne Foster (Miss Canada) with Hugh Pickett and group, 1977. Reference code: AM1674-S9-F01-: 2014-089.0605

We’d also like to thank Ron McDougall for his help identifying people in the photographs. Ron is a long-time Famous Artists associate and friend of Pickett’s.

Archives Staff Share Their Spookiest Record Discoveries!

This year in preparation for Halloween, the Archives staff rounded up some of the scariest things they have seen come past their desks over the years. So relax, eat some candy and enjoy perusing these creepy, weird and fun items from our holdings!

Granville Street Bridge news clipping, 1940s. Reference code: AM54-S17-MS11740

Archival Assistant Kim Unruh shared a newspaper clipping she came across from the Major Matthews Newspaper Clippings Collection. The clipping shows a 1940s Granville Bridge witch, complete with traffic jam poem. Still relevant today!

There were a few other ‘spooky’ clippings from the 19040s in the Major Matthews collection including this one found in the Ghosts of Vancouver  file – water pipe ghosts – BOO!

City Police Solve Haunted House Mystery clipping, 1942. Reference code: AM54-S17-M3495

Sue Bigelow, Digital Conservator forwarded the image below from the Stuart Thompson fonds showing a person in a costume standing beside a sports car. Stuart Thompson was a commercial, portrait and press photographer in Vancouver. Little is known about the context for this photograph but it sure is strange!

Person in gorilla/monster costume standing beside luxury sports model car, 1928. Reference code: AM1535-: CVA 99-1662

Digital Archivist Sharon Walz recalled seeing the below photograph from the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) fonds showing a scary parade float featuring a giant papiermâché clown with missing teeth.

Pacific National Exhibition float in PNE Opening Day Parade, 1949. Reference code: AM281-S8-: CVA 180-1548

A quick search reveals that the PNE fonds is fraught with scary images of clowns and more!

Nancy Hansen, Miss PNE posing with clowns, 1954. Reference code: AM281-S8-: CVA 180-2641

Publicity photo of clown. 1960s. Reference code: AM281-S8-: CVA 180-5711

Young boy with model of a devil. 1960s. Reference code: AM281-S8-: CVA 180-3896

Al Ackerman, Johnny Cirillino and Chuckles–publicity photo of clowns, 1960s. Reference code: AM281-S8-: CVA 180-5663

Reference Archivist Kira Baker recently received a donation containing mold – a scary discovery for an archivist! The records are currently being treated and are separated so that they do not affect surrounding documents.

Moldy records, bagged until we can clean them. Photo by Kristy Waller

City Archivist Heather Gordon brought forward a file from Major Matthews’ personal papers entitled “Jack and Jill”, Mrs. J.S. Matthews’ two Chinchilla cats – Jack’s 20th birthday, Mar. 28, 1950. The file contains a clipping of hair from Matthews’ cat Jack. Jack passed away in 1950 and Matthews saved the hair along with news clippings, correspondence, cards and notes related to the death.

Envelope containing Jack’s hair and a note by Major Matthews, 1950. Reference code: AM54-S11-3—

According to Archival Assistant Christine Tutt, the Archives also keeps three files containing human hair – a lock of Clara A. Roger’s hair from 1910, a lock of Mara Ifju Smith’s hair (daughter of Sculptor Elek Imredy) from the 1970’s and a lock from Mrs. Emily Matthews found in the Major Matthews collection.

to all of the Archives staff for submitting these fab-BOO-lous items. We hope
you’ve enjoyed them.


1930s Costume Parties

Looking for some last minute Halloween costume inspiration? Ever wondered what Halloween looked like at Amherst nearly 100 years ago? While we don’t know what the students were up to, we do know that the faculty loved to dress up and held an annual Halloween party in the Pratt Gymnasium in the early 1930s. President Stanley King also held annual costume parties for the faculty on various themes, including the “Gay 90s” (which would be like a 1980s themed party now) and historical characters. Please enjoy some highlights pictured below and for many more pictures come in to look at the Amherst College Photograph Collection!

Click on images to view larger

WQXR: The Home of High Fidelity

To Ears!

All else being equal, stereophonic sound offers higher fidelity than mono, and WQXR has always been noted for its quality. When the Federal Radio Commission authorized special high-fidelity broadcasting channels in 1933, one of the first was assigned to what was then called W2XR.[i] WQXR even came up with its own, high-fidelity, radio-receiver/phonograph combo.[ii] Each cost $265 in 1938, equivalent to almost $5,000 today, but its quality was praised.


John V. L. Hogan
(WQXR Archive Collections)

In 1942, an article in the Proceedings of the IRE, the Institute of Radio Engineers, called the station’s founder, John V. L. Hogan, “purveyor of the highest-fidelity music from WQXR.”[i] As recently as 2009, when there was a change in WQXR’s transmission parameters, an editorial in Spectrum, the magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), questioned the effect not merely on the station’s listeners or the radio industry but on civilization, itself![ii]

That might be, at least in part, because of WQXR’s long history of helping others achieve the highest quality. Hogan, for example, helped found the IRE, which merged with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (Hogan was a Fellow of both), to form the IEEE, now the world’s largest technical professional organization.[v] He sent engineers out to adjust neighborhood radio receivers.[vi] And he was happy to help competitors.


Although NBC had its radio stations, for example, it was WQXR’s FM station that carried a live concert of the NBC Symphony from Madison Square Garden on November 27, 1939, the first complete such program on FM.[vii] And, on July 18 of that year, even though WQXR had already applied for permission to broadcast FM, the station nevertheless provided the high-fidelity content for the first regularly scheduled broadcast by a different station, FM-inventor Edwin Armstrong’s W2XMN, in Alpine, New Jersey.[viii]


As for stereo sound, when the award-winning PBS television series Live from Lincoln Center broadcast New York City Opera’s production of The Ballad of Baby Doe on April 21, 1976, it marked the first time that more than half the population of the United States was able to watch a live television show with stereo sound.[ix] WQXR played a significant role. It wasn’t just that WQXR, the flagship radio station for the series, represented perhaps a fifth of the potential audience all by itself. And it wasn’t just WQXR’s rich history of stereo broadcasting of classical music.


In 1961, for example, WQXR became the first New York City radio station to begin broadcasting in the recently authorized FM stereo standard.[x] That was appropriate because the station’s chief engineer at the time, Louis Kleinklaus, had served on the National Stereophonic Radio Committee, which came up with that standard.[xi] And the station had previously proved that the “multiplexed subcarrier” technology involved would not cause interference when it used it to transmit facsimile editions of The New York Times in 1948.[xii]


In 1952, WQXR demonstrated stereo sound transmissions with one channel carried on FM and the other on AM.[xiii] By 1954, it wasn’t just a demonstration; all WQXR live music programming was broadcast that way.[xiv] Although it’s thought that WQXR was the first station to transmit stereo sound via AM & FM in this way, the idea of using two stations for two stereo channels is considerably older. In 1925, there were two-station (both AM) stereo transmissions in Europe and Connecticut.[xv] Of a two-station opera broadcast in Berlin that year, it was reported, “Whoever has an opportunity to hear this stereophonic transmission is surprised by the effect. The sound seems fuller and sharper in every detail. The different voices of a chorus become notably more distinguishable from each other and the orchestra.”[xvi]


The earliest known transmission of stereo sound was also of opera, though it wasn’t via radio. At the first international electricity exposition, in Paris in 1881, for months, visitors could listen to wired stereo opera transmissions by holding telephone receivers to their ears.[xvii] Author Victor Hugo was one of the listeners and was delighted by the effect.[xviii]


The QXR Network
(The New York Times/WQXR Archive Collections)

So, by 1976, electronically delivered stereo sound was almost a century old. But getting it live to more than half the U.S. population was still unprecedented. Live from Lincoln Center utilized the 13-city stereo transmission technology of the Metropolitan Opera Radio Network (of which WQXR was also the flagship), added geosynchronous satellite signals and regional wired networks, and topped it off with another technology WQXR helped pioneer: over-the-air FM networking (having FM stations retransmit the signals of other FM stations).[xix]


WQXR transmitted the first commercial over-the-air network program, Treasury of Music, on November 28, 1941, and continued it several times a week thereafter.[xx] By 1950, the station had achieved what was then “the largest hook-up of frequency modulation stations in the country” with 13 stations ranging from Niagara Falls to New Haven, plus Allentown and Scranton in Pennsylvania.[xxi] By 1959, “the largest commercial FM chain in the country” had expanded to 17 stations from Boston to Washington. Tens of millions could hear it in at least 13 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.[xxii] Despite multiple retransmissions, the sound quality was higher than could be achieved by wired networks at the time.


After the transition to stereo, the WQXR FM network continued to deliver high-fidelity, high-quality programming throughout the northeast. “But,” according to the station’s general manager Elliott Sanger, “the individual network affiliates, forced by lack of money, had to accept almost any kind of program and advertising offered to them, and that spelled the end of quality and cultural appeal which was characteristic of WQXR.” “In the early part of 1963, we decided to phase out the network operation, and, by that autumn, the WQXR Network was a thing of the past.”[xxiii]




[i] “High Fidelity on 1550 kc,” Radio Today, November 1935, pp. 18-19

[ii] Elliott M. Sanger, Rebel in Radio: The Story of WQXR, New York: Hastings House, 1973, pp. 48-50

[iii] George R. Clark, “Institute News and Radio Notes,” Proceedings of the IRE, v. 30, July 1942, p. 350

[iv] Glenn Zorpette, “It’s the Stupidity, Stupid,” IEEE Spectrum, v. 46, November 2009, p. 10

[v] “Architects of the IEEE,” IEEE Power Engineering Review, v. 4, March 1984, p. 11

[vi] Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek, and Peter Kanze, The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996, Jefferson, NC & London: McFarland, 1998, p. 170

[vii] John V. L. Hogan, “What the FM Broadcasters Have to Say,” FM, October 1941, p. 20

[viii] Sanger, p. 50

[ix] Mark Schubin, “The First Nationwide Live Stereo Simulcast Network,” SMPTE Journal, v. 86, January 1977, p. 10

[x] “Multiplex Stereo Broadcasting Is Begun by Station WQXR-FM,” The New York Times, September 8, 1961, p. 63

[xi] “Louis J. Kleinklaus, Radio Engineer, 83,” The New York Times, November 18, 1994, p. B10

[xii] David W. Dunlap, “Looking Back, 1948: ‘A Newspaper Delivered by Radio,’” Times Insider, October 2, 2014 <>

[xiii] “’Binaural’ Music Broadcast Here,” The New York Times, October 31, 1952, p. 36

[xiv] “Binaural Devices,” The New York Times, March 21, 1954, p. XX9

[xv] John Sunier, The Story of Stereo: 1881-, New York: Gernsback Library, 1960, pp. 29-30

[xvi] Ludwig Kapeller, “Radio Stereophony,” Radio News, v. 7 no. 4, October 1925, p. 546

[xvii] “The Telephone at the Paris Opera,” Scientific American, v. 45, December 31, 1881, pp. 422-423

[xviii] Victor Hugo, “1881 11 novembre,” Choses Vues, v.2, Paris: La Librarie Ollendorf, 1913, p. 239

[xix] Schubin, pp. 9-12

[xx] Russell D. Valentine, “W2XQR Broadcasts Concert Music on FM,” Radio-Craft, March 1942, p. 397

[xxi] Sidney Lohman, “News of TV and Radio: WQXR to Program FM Network on Saturday,” The New York Times, June 25, 1950, section 2, p. 7

[xxii] “QXR Network to Add 2 Stations Bringing FM Chain’s Total to 17,” The New York Times, October 30, 1959, p. 16

[xxiii] Sanger, p. 168

Launch of Tales From the ring project

New boxing archive has a nice ring to it

Scotland’s proud boxing history is to be preserved in a new archive – housed at the University of Stirling – following a funding award by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The University has received support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to create ‘Tales from the Ring: Celebrating Scotland’s Boxing Heritage’. The project will work with 12 members of the Scottish Ex-Boxers Association to create an archive of material and oral histories to identify and explain the country’s boxing heritage.

An accompanying exhibition will also be created, with the items on display at the University’s Stirling campus from January to March 2020. It will also be available to experience online, allowing as wide an audience as possible to learn about Scotland’s boxing heritage.

We are delighted to receive this funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help us promote and preserve the history of Scottish boxing. The University of Stirling Archives holds one of the largest collections of sporting archives in the country, including the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive, and this new project continues our commitment to supporting Scotland’s sporting heritage

Karl Magee, University Archivist

Ex-boxers already taking part in the project include Dick McTaggart, gold medallist at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games. The project team are keen to hear from other ex-boxers and their families who are interested in providing an oral history or items for the exhibition.

The project, supported by £9,900 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will archive items to international standards ensuring their long-term preservation and protection. The University’s expert team of archivists will also provide training to members of Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland, supporting them in their work bringing people together through the power of sport.

Our sporting heritage is part of the rich tapestry on which our lives are built. The National Lottery Heritage Fund wants to inspire as many people as possible to learn from and enjoy that rich legacy, as well as keeping it safe for future generation. We’re delighted that Tales from the Ring is helping do just that and we wish them well.

Caroline Clark, Director of Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund uses money raised by the National Lottery to inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

The Tales from the Ring project will collect, protect and preserve material relating to the history of Scottish boxing.

Special Collections Escape Room Takes Mystery-Themed Exhibit to the Next Level

FSU students had a mysterious time last month at our Special Collections and Archives Escape Room. The room was open from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on September 9th during the University Libraries Open House.

Students were able to go inside our exhibit room and interact with the exhibit, “A Century of Mystery and Intrigue”, in order to solve the escape room that was built around it. This exhibit was curated by Joseph, a Special Collections & Archives Scholar-in-Residence and Guest Curator who is 12 years old.

The escape room patrons worked diligently to find the four words that would reveal the title of the unpublished manuscript of Suzette Burns, whose ghost was haunting Strozier Library and sending the message to FSU faculty, staff, and students to “PUBLISH IT.” They worked through puzzles involving messages in bottles, decks of cards, and other eerie ways that lead to them solving the mystery.

A stack of papers that all read "PUBLISH IT.", repeatedly in red ink across the page.
“Night staff report that the printers keep generating
this strange message: PUBLISH IT.”

After finally finding the title of Suzette Burns’ manuscript, students were rewarded with FSU Libraries goodie bags, as well as bragging rights for having completed the escape room with time to spare.

If you missed out on this puzzling experience, you’re in luck! Sign up here to participate in our next haunting escape room, which will take place on Tuesday, October 29th from 6:00-9:00 pm in the Strozier Library exhibit room.

Just the Fax: Rossini and WQXR Share More than Broadcasts

WQXR has been an excellent place to hear the work of opera composer Gioachino Rossini. The station and its co-founder, John V. L. Hogan, were also pioneers in the electronic newspaper-delivery business. What, you may ask, is the connection? Dear reader, read on. 

WQXR started as an experimental television station, W2XR, in 1929, created by Hogan.[i] We may never know what television programming he hoped to transmit, but opera had been suggested in the earliest-known publication about television, in 1877.[ii] A Polish inventor published a detailed description the following year of the apparatus necessary to televise performances of opera-singer Adelina Patti.[iii] And, in 1891, Thomas Edison told reporters he might show Patti’s opera performances on a color-TV-like apparatus at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.[iv]

Unfortunately, television, even ten years after Hogan created W2XR, was not the successful medium it later became. In its sub-headline of a report of a televised baseball game in 1939, The New York Times noted, “Spectators at Screen Unable to Follow Action, but the Announcer Tells Story.”[v] Hogan also experimented with facsimile (fax) image transmissions and accompanied them with recorded classical music. It was those broadcasts of classical-music  that led to radio station WQXR.

Unlike television, fax-by-wire was a well-established medium by 1929; the earliest commercial service had begun in France in 1865 for such purposes as signature verification.[vi]  The apparatus used at that time was Giovanni Caselli’s “pantélégraphe,” which could transmit still images down telegraph lines.

Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868), composer circa 1850.
(Ransom Humanities Research Center, The Univ. of Texas at Austin.)

Fleeing uprisings related to the Sicilian revolt, Rossini moved from Bologna to Florence in 1848.[vii] Affected by the same unrest, Caselli, too, moved there one year later, where he taught physics at the University of Florence.[viii] Caselli moved to Paris in 1856 to get financial and technical support for his fax machine project; Rossini had moved a year earlier.[ix]

The two Italian expatriates became friends in Paris. So, to help promote his friend’s pantélégraphe system, Rossini composed a short piece of music and successfully transmitted the sheet (shown above) by fax from Paris to Amiens over telegraph lines on January 22, 1860.[x]  Rossini died in Paris in 1868. When his remains were returned to Florence in 1887, both the original sheet and the received fax version were exhibited at the Circolo Filologico cultural center to show how the maestro was also a pioneer of image transmission. 

John V. L. Hogan with his experimental facsimile transmitter.
(Electronics Magazine/November 1934)

That was fax-by-wire. Fax-by-radio, however, was a different story. Instead of voltages over telegraph lines, it utilized broadcast audio that sounded like noise. Interference could make documents unreadable. Limited broadcast bandwidth made fax transmissions slow, and fax time ate into listening time, so the government restricted fax transmissions to the hours of midnight to 6:00 AM.[xi] 

The authorization of FM radio broadcasts solved those problems. Frequency modulation was relatively static-free, utilized greater bandwidth, and, with multiplexed subcarrier frequencies (later used to carry stereo sound), FM could carry fax transmissions and listener programming simultaneously without interference. So, in 1948, WQXR, then owned by The New York Times, transmitted four-page facsimile editions of the newspaper six times a day, starting at 11:00 AM. Each page took three-and-a-half minutes to transmit, with receivers located at 14 department stores.[xii]

Technically, the faxing of newspapers via radio was quite successful and might be said to have presaged the era of internet news. But, at the time, the cost to buy a full-size, multipage copy of the actual newspaper was just three cents, and, after home delivery or picking it up from a vendor, there was no wait to read it. WQXR’s fax delivery was a mere flash in the pan.

Ah, well.


[i] “Early Television Stations,” Early Television Museum

[ii] Electrician, “The Electroscope,” The Sun [New York], March 30, 1877, p. 2

[iii] Julijan Ochorowicz, “O moz˙nos´ci zbudowania przyrza¸du do przesyłania obrazów optycznych na dowolna¸ odległos´c´” [On the Possible Construction of a Device for Transmitting Optical Images at Any Distance], Kosmos, v.3, 1878, pp. 73–79

[iv] “Edison’s Latest Invention,” Evening Post [Wellington, New Zealand], June 27, 1891, p. 1.

[v] “First Television of Baseball Seen,” The New York Times, May 18, 1939, p. 29

[vi] Eilene Zimmerman, “The Evolution of FinTech,” The New York Times, April 7, 2016, Section F, p. 8

[vii] Richard Osborne, Rossini, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 140

[viii] Jonathan Coopersmith, Faxed: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015, pp. 18-19

[ix] Osborne, p. 144

[x] Herbert Weinstock, Rossini: A Biography, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968, p. 311

[xi] “Fourth Annual Report, Federal Communications Commission,” Washington: USGPO, 1939

[xii] David W. Dunlap, “Looking Back, 1948: ‘A Newspaper Delivered by Radio,’” Times Insider, October 2, 2014


Boots Thomas Digital Collection online from the FSU WWII Institute

Ernest Ivy “Boots” Thomas Jr. was born on March 10, 1924 and raised in Monticello, Florida. He served as a Platoon Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, Company E, Second Battalion, 28th Marines of the Fifth Marine Division during World War II. His collection, held by The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, contains the letters he sent home to his mother during his time training at Parris Island, South Carolina, as well as the time he served as a drill instructor for the Marine Corps.

Through his letters, one can follow his very active and exciting time in the service, starting from his attempts to join (despite having color blindness) and leading him through to his training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Camp Pendleton in California, Camp Tarawa in Hawaii, and eventually into the Pacific Theatre for combat in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Ernest “Boots” Thomas postcard to his mother, Martha Thorton Thomas, September 9, 1943 [original object]

Boots Thomas was known by his comrades and leaders as a natural leader, taking a post as drill instructor early on in his military career. During the campaign for Iwo Jima, Thomas battled through the rough terrain of the island and Mt. Suribachi, taking charge after the platoon leader was wounded. Leading the platoon, he and his men successfully defended against the Japanese and raised the first American flag atop Suribachi on February 23, 1945. The subsequent second larger flag raising, for which Thomas was not present, would later be repeated and captured in the now-famous photograph from Joe Rosenthal of American Press. Thomas was killed in action on March 3, 1945, seven days before his 21st birthday, and awarded the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism,” along with the Purple Heart Metal and other combat-recognition awards.

This digital collection was described by FSU student Carmellina Moersch of The Institute for World War II and the Human Experience. Moersch is a senior at Florida State studying Classics, Humanities and Religion. At the Institute, she works as an Archival Assistant, processing collections and gaining important experience related to historical research, analysis, exhibit curation, and more. The Institute works diligently to preserve the photographs, letters, and artifacts of service members and their families. The Institute depends on Undergraduate and Graduate students to process collections, create finding aids, perform administrative tasks, and help further the goal of making our holdings available to researchers and scholars around the world.

To view the Boots Thomas letters in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository, visit its collection there. You can see all digital collections from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience in DigiNole as well. For more information about the Institute and its programs, please visit its website.

Announcing our 2020 Creative Fellow

We’re delighted to announce PPL’s new Creative Fellow: Kelly Eriksen, a Providence-based multimedia artist with a background in glass and an interest in “how the things that we interact with every day can be viewed as materials with which we can work and play.”


Over the coming 8 months, Kelly will do research in our Special Collections and design a sound installation related to the topic of journalism as part of our 2020 exhibition and program series.

We love that Kelly’s work is both conceptual and interactive, and we’re so excited to see what she creates!

Archives Month in FSU Special Collections & Archives

October is American Archives Month. And while every month is Archives Month to those of us here in Special Collections & Archives, October is the month we really like to toot our own horn.

We kicked off the festivities this year with our annual takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter handle for #AskAnArchivist day which was on October 2, 2019 this year. We had a great day of discussion and sharing out information about our collections, our practices and what exactly it is we do every day in all our spaces. You can see a round-up of (most) of the tweets below. Happy Reading! [In case the tweets are not appearing in this post since technology is not always our friend, even to the digital archivist, you can view this Tweet Collection here as well.]

BCGLA Video and Audio now online!

The Archives is very happy to announce that over 150 audio and video files from the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) are now available online. This could not have been possible without the funding received from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS).

GIF comprised of stills from various BCGLA videotapes.

The BCGLA Audiovisual Recordings series consists of 43 audio tapes and 93 video tapes. The audio recordings include show tapes for drag performances at B.J.’s Club, various interviews for Angles, and Gay Games III coverage. The video recordings consist of drag events; fashion shows; made for television documentaries and specials; the Little Sister’s 2000 trial; and footage from various Pride Parades.

A selection of audio and video tapes from the BCGLA. Photograph by Kristy Waller

A large number of the video tapes contain footage of various drag events from the early 1990s until the late 2000s. These include Coronation Balls, fundraisers, out of town shows, campaign shows, pageants, and Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society events. This is an incredible and unique collection of Vancouver drag history. The tapes feature amazing performances by individuals such as Wanda Fuca, Paige Turner, ted northe, Mama Karen, Imelda Mae Santos, Diana Rose, Ms. Adrian, Iris, Myria Le Noir, John Taylor, Willie Taylor, Sumi Sashay, Tara Nova, Crema, Joan-E, Byron Longclaws and many more.

GIF comprised of stills from various drag performances from the BCGLA.


the posters and photographs that are digitized in-house, audiovisual materials are
sent to be digitized by a trusted, experienced third-party vendor. The audio is
digitized to and stored as uncompressed Broadcast Wave (.wav) files with a bit
depth of 24 and a sample rate of 96 kHz. Videotapes are digitized to
uncompressed 10-bit files and are transcoded to both an open-source
preservation format and an access format. Many of the BCGLA video tapes were
recorded using the LP (long play) VHS mode resulting in some 4-6 hour files. The
digitized files nearly filled four 4TB drives. Once the files are backed up,
they need to be checked to ensure the quality of the transfers, to establish
that the content matches the title and that any additional descriptive
information is documented to make searching easier once the files are online.

The Archives relies on open source software called QCTools developed by the Bay Area Video Coalition and MediaArea to check video materials. The software allows the archivist performing the quality checks to visually check the videos without having to watch every second in real time. With a collection such as the BCGLA that has over 180 hours of footage, this saves us time and ensures that the best digital copy can be preserved.

Below is a screenshot of the QCTools interface showing YDiff, UDiff and VDiff filters. Each frame from the video is shown at the bottom. The “Diff” filters subtract the Y, U and V values for two successive frames and display the result. A very large spike in the graph may indicate a problem with the video.

Screenshot of the QCTools interface showing YDiff, UDiff and VDiff filters.

The archivist checking the files looks for artifacts (errors or anomalies in the video), and determines if these artifacts exist on the physical tape or were introduced through digitization. If you are interested in the types of artifacts we look for, you can check out this great resource called the AV Artifact Atlas.

Screenshot of QCTools Preview Window using the field view.

QC Tools preview window allows for spot checking and manual analysis using a
variety of filters. The archivist can inspect particular frames using the field
view (shown above) to look for video head clogs and other artifacts. In
addition to using QCTools, the archivist also watches 2 minutes at the
beginning, middle and end of the recording to ensure that there are no glitches
with the file or audio sync issues.


were testing the smaller, access version of the files in QCTools, but even
those could be over 6GB for one file. Because some of these files were so
large, we were having issues loading the files into QCTools. Playback in
QCTools was uneven and the program would sometimes crash even before the file
was fully loaded. We needed to provide more memory and processing power to the

City’s Technology Services Department created a virtual machine (a software-based computer which we
accessed through the City’s internal network) and we tested the performance of
QCTools on 3 files with increasing resources. We also switched operating
systems, from using the Windows version of QCTools to the Ubuntu Linux version.
As the amount of memory and the number of processing cores increased, it became
faster to load the files into the program. For example, one 3.8GB file took 164
minutes to load in the Windows environment and 87 minutes to load in a VM with
similar resources. By the end of the test, it took about 30 minutes to load. When
we had 8 processing cores and 16GB of memory, we stopped testing and completed
the file checking. Playback became smoother and a large file would not crash
the program. The work of checking these files went by much faster. Once all the
files were checked, the virtual machine was repurposed for another use.

Once the files were checked, they were processed through our digital preservation system, Archivematica, which automatically uploads access versions to the descriptions in our online database.


and use of most of the AV, as with the posters and photographs in the BCGLA collection,
is allowed for fair dealing purposes. We have noted the
copyright owner when possible. Further information may be available through the
Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

For more information about the BCGLA see
our previous blog posts regarding the donation
and its subject files
, periodicals,
and photographs.

This project was realized as part of
the National Heritage Digitization Strategy of Canada thanks to the generous
support of a private donor. / Ce projet a été réalizé dans le cadre de La
Stratégie de numérisation du patrimoine documentaire du Canada grâce à un don
généreaux d’un donateur privé.

WQXR: A Call Letter Primer

New York’s classical music station is WQXR, and, if you’ve listened to it during a station break, you know its programming is also transmitted by WQXW in Westchester.  But what about WQXQ, W59NY, W2XQR, and W2XR?

W2XR Founder, John V. L. Hogan.
(WQXR Archive Collections)

It all began in 1929 with the last, which actually started out as a television station – well, an experimental television station.  It was run by John V. L. Hogan in a lab in space shared with a garage in Long Island City, with an antenna on the roof.[i]  TV requires both pictures and sounds, and in 1929 those were transmitted either consecutively or on two different stations.  Hogan’s stations operated at frequencies well above the AM-radio band.[ii]

In 1933, the Federal Radio Commission authorized double-bandwidth radio stations just above the AM band, and the first was licensed to Hogan’s W2XR. W was the designation commonly used for stations in the eastern part of the U.S.; 2 was the designation for the New York and New Jersey zone; X was experimental, which characterized television in those days; and R was the first letter of Hogan’s company, Radio Pictures.

Hogan played classical music records on the sound station when he was transmitting still images (radio facsimile), and some radio listeners were able to pick up those transmissions.[iii]  Seeking a larger audience, Hogan sent his engineers to businesses in the neighborhood to adjust their radios so they could tune in W2XR.  Taking advantage of the double-bandwidth station, Hogan was able to transmit high fidelity and got special transcription recordings that were of higher quality than the usual fare. 

Eventually, the sound broadcasting took over from the television.  W2XR went from a 50-watt transmitter in 1929 to 250-watt in 1934, and, when it became a commercial radio station in 1936, 1,000-watt.  What should the commercial station be called?  Q rhymes with 2, and, when written in cursive script, even looks like 2, and it’s the first letter of quality.  WQXR was born, but the changing call signs weren’t done.

WQXR’s initial double-bandwidth channel allowed high-fidelity transmission but not freedom from interference.  For the latter, Edwin Armstrong developed FM.  But where could Armstrong get high-fidelity content?  From WQXR, of course! 

A special, equalized, high-fidelity telephone line was run from WQXR’s studio (in Manhattan) to Armstrong’s station in Alpine, New Jersey, for the world’s first regularly scheduled FM broadcast on July 18, 1939.[iv]  Armstrong returned the favor by lending WQXR an FM transmitter so it could begin transmitting as W2XQR on November 26 of the same year.[v]

When FM became a commercially authorized service in 1941, the call sign changed to W59NY, and, when the rules changed again in 1943, it became WQXQ.  Finally, in 1948, the FM version became WQXR.



[i] Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek, & Peter Kanze, The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996, Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland, 1998, p. 169

[ii] “Early Television Stations,” Early Television Museum <>

[iii] Christopher H. Sterling, editor, Encyclopedia of Radio 3-Volume Set, New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003, p. 2582

[iv] Jaker, et al., p. 170

[v] Sterling, p. 2583

Scottish Political ARCHIve Crowdfunder

The Scottish Political Archive have launched a new crowdfunding project to raise money to support the production of a graphic history of the Scottish Parliament.  The Scottish Parliament: A Graphic History will draw on the collections of the Scottish Political Archive to tell the story of the Scottish Parliament and the resulting graphic novel will be distributed freely to all public libraries and secondary schools in Scotland.

Process sketches from Scottish Parliament: A Graphic History

We asked graphic artist Jules Scheele to come up with some sample images and above is some of the sample artwork they provided using our collections as inspiration.

To support the project

#AskAnArchivist Day is tomorrow!

FSU Special Collections & Archives is once again participating in #AskAnArchivist Day, the kick-off event for American Archives Month. We’ll be taking over the FSU Libraries twitter feed (@fsulibraries) tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 from 10am to 6pm.

How does this work? Archivists here at FSU and all over the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. No question is too silly, too small or too big. You can ask us here at FSU what the oldest item is we have, what does it mean to process a collection, do we have anything in our collections about your dissertation topic? Just tweet at us with the hashtag and we’ll answer!

Don’t be shy with us or any other archives on Twitter and be sure to ask your questions on #AskAnArchivist day!

Iron Work Detailing of Houses in Marpole

Thanks to local resident Flora Thompson, the Archives received a donation of over 400 photographs documenting the wrought-iron work and decorative designs of Vancouver residences. Thompson took these photographs from 1995 to 2003 and the images highlight a unique aspect and era of Vancouver building design. This same design aesthetic is reflected in Vancouver homes from a certain era beyond that of the Marpole neighbourhood.

Great star-like iron work on this house on Hudson Street. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.165

Iron work for the stairs, entryway, and front windows. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.348.1

Cattail pattern on this Osler Street house. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.147

Although some site locations are unidentified, most of the houses are described by their street address. The collection of over 400 photographs includes views of houses, close-up shots of house entryways showing iron work designs, as well as street views capturing other houses and buildings. These photographs may be of interest to researchers examining property and neighbourhood histories as many of the homes shown have since been demolished.

7843 Osler Street house and lawn decorations. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.148

A more unusual shape of a hand rail. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.339.2

Attention readers: please feel free to contact the Archives if you are able to identify any of the houses as the Archives would be interested in adding to the descriptive information to help make these records more discoverable.

Beautiful spring flowers around the step railing leading up to the house at 8279 Hudson Street. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.178

The shadow across the wall creates an effect of a third hand rail on this house. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.141

Iron waves decorate this house’s railings on West 64th Avenue. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.278

Cats snoozing on the front steps at 7623 French Street. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.213

A small grouping of this collection has been also put up as a Flickr set – enjoy!

Reminder and Researchers

A quick reminder: applications for our 2020 Creative Fellowship are due this coming Tuesday, October 1st.

Now that you’ve been reminded, we’re excited to tell you that Special Collections materials are (mostly) moved into their new homes in our renovated, climate-controlled stacks!!! (The news is exciting enough to merit some rule-breaking punctuation.) We have twelve fancy air conditioning units that control and monitor temperature, air distribution, and humidity, keeping our books happy and stable.

Now that we’ve moved, we’re able to take classes and researchers on a limited basis (due to space considerations during the ongoing renovation). Get in touch if you’d like to make an appointment!

The Norfolk Charitable Trust collections have arrived!

This guest post was written by this summer’s Norfolk Charitable Trust Intern, Elliott Hadwin (AC 2019).

Before archivists can get collections ready for use by researchers, they have to get the collections ready for themselves! This summer, as the Norfolk Charitable Trust Intern, I undertook two projects to help prepare eight new collections ready for processing by the Norfolk Charitable Trust Transition Archivist, Jess Dampier: preliminary research and physical assessment. The goal of doing this kind of work before processing is to help the archivist get oriented in the collection and contextualize the materials, but before I get to my work with the collections, let me tell you a little bit about the collections themselves.

In the winter of 2018, the archives received a generous donation from the Norfolk Charitable Trust of eight new collections:

  • Henry P. Kendall Archive,
  • Evelyn Louise Kendall Archive,
  • Henry W. Kendall General Archive,
  • Henry W. Kendall Nobel Prize Archive,
  • Henry W. Kendall Photographic Archive,
  • John P. Kendall Archive,
  • Kendall Company Archive,
  • and the Kendall-Plimpton Genealogical Archive

All together, that’s about 150 linear feet of materials on or about the Kendall family. For a better idea of the size of that, that’s about 150 banker’s boxes. It seemed like a lot to me at first, especially because there’s such a wide range of topics covered! The Kendall family has always been very active in everything from business to philanthropy to the arts, and quite a bit of that is represented here. Henry P. Kendall (Amherst College Class of 1899) bought a failing textile mill in the early 1900’s and turned it into the multinational Kendall Company, an important supplier of medical textiles, primarily bandages during the first and second World War. His wife, Evelyn, was a Canadian born nurse and artist, as well as an avid collector of art, shell art, South Caroliniana, whaling memorabilia, dolls, and early aeronautic memorabilia (primarily ballooning). Their older son Henry W. (Amherst College Class of 1950) was a Nobel Prize winning physicist as well as an expert outdoorsman and photographer. Their other son, John P. (Amherst College Class of 1951), was a businessman with the Kendall Company until it was acquired by Colgate-Palmolive in the 1970’s, as well as an important figure in Hampshire College history (but more on that later!).

 With the preliminary research, one of the main goals was to get a better sense of the people who created the collections; what it would’ve been like for them to live in that time period, what kind of work (professional or personal) they did, what their hobbies and interests were, etc. Since the Kendall collections have a good amount of personal materials (photographs, memorabilia, correspondence, etc.) it was great to turn to the collections themselves for this context but simply because of the cumulative size of the collections and the long history of the Kendall family, there were lots of other rabbit holes to go down. One of the first challenges for me was to wrap my head around all the members of the family. To get started, I made a very rough family tree – but the Kendall family has been in New England for centuries and for a while it was almost more confusing than before!

But as I started to learn more about the individual family members, they each began to take shape and it became easier to keep them all straight in my head. Something I had not expected was how strongly the Kendalls have been connected to the Connecticut River Valley. Although many members of the family have been Amherst graduates, it became apparent as I researched more that their connections went way deeper than just Amherst College. For example, I’d seen a few references throughout my research to John P. being an important early supporter of Hampshire College, but never anything about the exact nature of that, so I took a trip to Hampshire to look at their archival records of the college’s founding. John P.’s interest in Hampshire might have been sparked, at least in part, because of his personal connection to his cousin Amherst College President Calvin H. Plimpton and his college friend Charles Longsworth who was Hampshire’s founding Vice President. But he also obviously supported the college’s founding principles: he had provided some input on The Making of a College, and starting in 1975 served as the chairman of the Board of Trustees. According to the student newspaper Climax, he became chairman during a particularly tumultuous time in Hampshire’s history, when students were regularly protesting the Board of Trustees because of changes to financial aid and other dissatisfaction on campus.


Climax, January 14, 1975, from the Hampshire College Archives

In addition, many of the women in the family attended Mount Holyoke College: Clara Idella Plimpton (Henry P.’s mother) was class of 1871, Helen Idella Kendall (Henry P.’s sister) was class of 1900, and Helen Louise Kendall (Henry P.’s daughter) was class of 1951. And even before that, Henry P.’s grandmother, Priscilla Guild Lewis Plimpton, was one of Mary Lyon’s first students at Wheaton Seminary before Lyon went on to found Mount Holyoke College. Especially because none of these women are very heavily represented in our Kendall collections, I decided to make a trip to Mount Holyoke’s archives to collection biographical information and look at the Kendall Papers. While researching there, I learned that Clara Idella Plimpton is also credited with being the first woman to spend her junior year of college abroad. Clara Idella went on to marry Henry Lucien Kendall, but was widowed at a young age and raised Henry P. and his sister by herself on the Plimpton family farm in Walpole, MA.

The Kendall family connection to Walpole was also a strong one, and I ended up making a trip to visit the Walpole Historical Society. They had also received a donation from the Norfolk Charitable Trust, mostly concerning the Plimptons’ side of the family, and I was able to get a better sense of where materials related to our collections are kept. For example, they had the originals of some things we only had copies of, and vice versa.

While all of the research was going on, I was also working on physical assessments with the Norfolk Charitable Trust Transition Archivist, Jess Dampier. Like the preliminary research, a part of the physical assessments is just to get acquainted with the materials. Since these collections had already been worked on by an archivist at the Norfolk Charitable Trust, they came to our archives in relatively good shape. Since I’m just starting out working in archives, I thought it was really helpful to see the choices a previous archivist had made about housing, arrangement, etc. and try to understand why those choices were made. Sometimes, however, the questions we were asking ourselves were very basic “what is this?”, for example with Henry W.’s scientific materials that we received.

Another “what is this?” moment happened with a clear, plastic pyramid that had been given to Henry W. to commemorate a diving expedition. What I initially thought was a piece of coral inside turned out to be a Styrofoam cup that had been crushed under the pressure when it was taken down to their diving depth. I also really enjoyed looking at Evelyn’s doll miniatures, just because I was surprised by how intricate they are!

The other part of the physical assessment though is to find and address any immediate preservation issues. Thankfully, the issues we ran into most often (understuffed boxes and non-archival housing, for example) can be fixed by re-housing the materials. We did, however, find some mold on some leather materials and some film reels with vinegar syndrome. For now, these items will be placed in cold storage to stop the spread the leather’s mold and the films’ degradation.

box 57 2

Box 57 of the Henry W. Kendall General Archive. The items with mold damage have been isolated for now, but will be put in cold storage soon. Other plastic bags in there are non-archival and will eventually need to be removed or replaced.

In the end, the whole range of Kendall collections ended up getting a color-coded makeover!

After the research and the physical assessment, it’s much easier to work with the materials without getting mixing up the family members or the boxes themselves. Hopefully, the preliminary research will not only help Jess with processing the collections, but also help visitors as they use the Kendall collections to conduct their own research.

Special thanks to John and Sue Anderson at the Walpole Historical Society for hosting me for the day, and to Emily Moran at Hampshire College for helping me access their archival records. And a huge thank you to the staff at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections for supporting this internship!

National Sporting heritage day 2019

The University of Stirling Archives is delighted to be hosting a visit from members of the Scottish Ex-Boxers Association to celebrate National Sporting Heritage Day 2019. An annual event, National Sporting Heritage Day aims to raise awareness of sporting heritage, encourage new audiences to experience sporting collections and work with sporting organisations to recognise and celebrate their heritage.

The event will take place on Sunday 29th September from 1pm to 4pm in the University Library and will include a small display of sporting memorabilia relating to the history of Scottish boxing. Guests of honour will include Olympic gold medallist Dick McTaggart and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Charlie Kane.

There is an opportunity for staff and students of the university to find out more about our work with the Scottish Ex-Boxers Association and our wider sporting heritage collections on Monday 30th September from 1pm to 4pm.

We will also be announcing some exciting news on National Sporting Heritage Day relating to a major new project to collect and preserve Scotland’s boxing heritage – more details coming soon!

Sporting Heritage in partnership with generous funding from Art Fund, are proud to support community sporting heritage activity across the UK through a programme of locally focussed projects in celebration of National Sporting Heritage Day. Follow the action at #NSHD2019.

WNYC Keeps on Truck’n: Nearly a Century of ‘Mobile Units’

Mary Whalen riding in model truck at the city’s Silver Jubilee celebration at Grand Central Palace in June, 1923.
(Radio News/WNYC Archive Collections)

The first ‘WNYC truck’ actually appeared a year before the station went on air during the City’s Silver Jubilee exposition in June 1923. Held at Grand Central Palace, the expo marked 25 years of borough unification which made New York City geographically as we know it. Here, Commissioner Grover A. Whalen, among his many duties, promoted the nascent city radio station. Meanwhile, his daughter Mary drove about the expo in her own miniature mobile radio truck advertising the city’s plans for the station that would become WNYC. A booth at the show demonstrated the need for a city radio station and what it would provide. For more details, see New York City’s Silver Jubilee: The Plan and Promise of WNYC in 1923.

A view inside WNYC’s first public address radio truck in 1924. (Eugene de Salignac/NYC Municipal Archives

WNYC’s first real truck is featured above. It held no broadcast equipment and was used solely as a mobile public address system at locations around the city. By the station’s second year on the air, a newer mobile unit had replaced the ‘wagon.’ It’s seen below just two days after the Independence Day celebrations at City Hall where engineers were packing up gear.

The WNYC truck in front of City Hall, July 6, 1926.
(Eugene de Salignac/NYC Municipal Archives)

By the mid-1930s the Federal Works Progress Administration was beginning to have a significant influence over just about every aspect of WNYC. This included music and drama programming, plans for new studios decorated with Federal Art Program murals and a state-of-the-art transmitter site. I suspect that there was probably some federal money that also went into the station’s new 100-watt public address truck arriving in 1937. It was so impressive that Communication & Broadcast Engineering magazine ran a three-page feature on it. Author Aaron Nadell wrote of engineers Isaac Brimberg and William Pitkin’s design:

The WNYC truck by Leo Garel in 1939.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Flexibility of operation, to meet the varied requirements of the municipal authorities, constituted one important feature of the design. Another is duplication of equipment to avoid any possibility of an embarrassing breakdown during some conspicuously public occasion.

The truck itself is a 1937 Chevrolet, streamlined, and finished in aluminum with fenders and wheels of ultramarine blue…two-tone lettering. The flag of the city flies from the central staff. The number 810 at the rear of the body shows the frequency of Station W.N.Y.C.”[1]

The truck (pictured below) was used for broadcasting and reporting from park concerts, parades, and public celebrations. Its first use was in connection with the formal opening of the elevated west side highway for automobile traffic. The truck’s microphones and loudspeakers broadcast the speeches of the city officials. Afterward, it participated in the parade of vehicles that followed the cutting of the ribbon stretched across the new roadway. The truck also relayed the ceremony via shortwave to the station for general broadcast.

WNYC’s new 100-watt public address system truck in 1937.
(Photo courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives)

White police officers lead an unidentified black man past the WNYC sound truck with chain handcuff on wrist, from the scene of the Harlem riot in New York City, Aug. 2, 1943.
(AP Photo)

This vehicle was also used during the Harlem riot of August 1943. Mayor La Guardia sent the unit uptown to help quell violence and looting that followed the wounding of an African-American soldier by a white police officer. The Mayor, along with religious and civic leaders, rode in the sound truck as it drove through Harlem, addressing residents directly from the street. They sought to dispel a rumor that the soldier had been killed and called on residents to return to their homes and remain calm.[2]


But it seems that this swanky Chevy was not the mobile unit WNYC newsman Dick Pack got for covering the celebration of Howard Hughes’ return from an around-the-world flight in 1938.


Ours was not a super-duper streamlined bus like NBC’s; the WNYC so-called mobile broadcasting unit was a small battered truck, the kind usually used by neighborhood stores for deliveries. Atop the slightly sloping roof of the truck was a tall antenna pole, and inside was the shortwave relay transmitter. The only real vantage point for announcers was atop the slanting roof. And there was nowhere to hold on except to a corner of a roof loudspeaker. You couldn’t latch on to the antenna pole, because that was charged, and you’d get a nasty shock if you did…We never expected that once the Hughes cars left City Hall, the procession’s pace would change. This time, the moment the cars started the escorting motorcycles jazzed into full speed, the official autos did the same — and our little truck had to follow. Sirens wailing, the cavalcade sped uptown at well over 50 miles per hour. And there we were on top of that blankety truck, clinging on for life. [3]

Fortunately, Pack and his crew survived the Hughes coverage unscathed, at least physically. Although he was told afterward their work north of 14th Street was never heard because of the limits of the shortwave relay at the time.

WNYC’s mobile unit at Times Square during Eisenhower Day celebrations in June 1945.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

The mobile units (shown at right and below) look similar to the kind of delivery trucks made by Mack and International Harvester at the time, but we’ve yet to confirm just what make and models these were. If you’ve got some ideas, please let us know. Nevertheless, photos and audio reveal these units were used at least through 1945 for crucial coverage of VE Day activities in May, General Eisenhower’s triumphant return from Europe in June, VJ Day celebrations in August and the Admiral Nimitz Day parade two months later.

WNYC mobile unit on 5th Avenue in front of the New York Public Library following a home front and armed forces parade, June 13, 1942.
(WNYC Archives, Henry Wei Collection)

This 1958 photo of our truck at Times Square (bottom of shot) gives a rare view of the yellow and green color scheme.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

By 1950 and into the ’60s, with the Cold War in full swing, WNYC’s civil defense role expanded –and with it, its fleet of vehicles. They were used for public address and for two-way mobile communications. Public address installations numbered more than 500 annually, ranging from the dedication of new buildings to outdoor concerts in the parks and other venues. A great many of these required engineers to load up vehicles such as those shown below with equipment for recording and remote broadcast. The 1956 station Annual Report noted the following:

The constant communication readiness of all WNYC mobile units continued to prove of inestimable value. This outstanding service was dramatically demonstrated in August when the WNYC mobile unit played a key role at the dockside in bringing together families with the returning survivors of the Andrea Doria disaster. [4]

Below is audio of the mobile unit reporting from the fire of the U.S.S. Constellation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on December 19, 1960. (Courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives)

WNYC civil defense sound trucks in Central Park in the 1950s.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

WNYC’s Dodge van in front of City Hall in the late 1960s.
(Alfred Tropea/WNYC Archive Collections)

By the late 1960s forward, use of WNYC’s mobile unit narrowed. There was no longer a call for civil defense applications, public address and shortwave relay back to the studio. The priority then, as now, is primarily for transporting audio equipment to and from distant locations for event and concert recording or where there is already a high-quality transmission line installed for live remotes.

The WNYC van in 2008
(Amy Pearl/WNYC)

The vehicles used from 1924 through the 1950s were the most visually appealing and their role, under the city ownership, more diverse. Afterward, they were pretty standard, practical, and a canvas for budding graffiti artists. Today, the WNYC/WQXR mobile unit or van is well branded. And it continues in the tradition of ferrying producers, engineers, and equipment to concert venues and event sites all over the metropolitan area.

WNYC’s van today!
(Amy Pearl/WNYC)

Two more examples of reporting from the WNYC mobile units:

1) Mike Jablons reporting from Pier 90 on the arrival of returning troops from Europe, June 20, 1945. (Note – sound quality is a bit rough). (Mike Jablon Collection/WNYC Archives)

2) An unnamed WNYC reporter at a fire on Pier 20 at the foot of Chambers Street, January 1, 1954. (Courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives)


[1] Nadell, Aaron, “WNYC’s 100 Watt P-A Truck,” Communication and Broadcast Engineering, May 1937. pg. 5.

[2] The progressive tabloid PM actually reported that Station Director Morris Novik sent three WNYC sound trucks to Harlem, “…along with two Police Department trucks. These, staffed with sound crews, routed out of bed, toured the area slowly, broadcasting appeals by the Mayor and Negro leaders to the people of Harlem to return to their homes and clear the streets.”  “How the Press and Radio Handles the Harlem Riot,” PM, August 3, 1943, pg. 8. 

[3] Pack, Dick, “Life with WNYC,” Variety, January 4, 1950, pg. 103.

[4] WNYC Annual Report for 1956.

And last, but certainly not least, this truck is currently used by the NYPR engineering team to reach transmitter sites that are off the beaten path.

WNYC’s most recent truck.
(WNYC Engineering/WNYC Archive Collections)


Sam Price plays “Mayor La Guardia Jumps”

I believe this is a recording of Sam Price performing his new jazz piano suite, Mayor La Guardia Jumps before a capacity audience at New York City Center, May 13, 1945.  The other voice heard on the recording is probably performer and band leader Eddie Condon. Condon and Price are referring to the fact that the Mayor’s term of office ends December 31, 1945.

The recording was found on a transcription disc with Mayor La Guardia from May 7, 1945 making a pre-VE-Day announcement over WNYC to the residents of New York.

Samuel Blythe Price (1908-1992) was a noted a boogie-woogie, jazz and jump blues pianist and bandleader. He was in the WNYC studio during the 2nd annual American Music Festival in February 1941 with Leadbelly, Albert Ammons, and Meade Lux Lewis. See: AMF 1941.


New Video Wall: Seasons

As summer turns over into autumn, we present a new video wall show in keeping with this theme: Seasons: Vancouver through the year.

Seed bed preparation, 1908. Reference code: AM505-S1-: CVA 660-688

The Archives’ holdings have a delightful number of photographs that relate to various seasonal celebrations and activities, which was the seed of inspiration for this video wall show. It begins with spring, moving through summer and autumn, and finishes with winter. The viewer will be treated to photographs of gardening, track and field races, soccer matches, lazy days at the beach, wedding celebrations, regattas, groups hiking, Thanksgiving feasts, children in costume for Halloween, and skiers eyeing up slopes. The earliest image showcased is the gathering of a crowd celebrating Dominion Day in 1878, with the most recent image over a hundred years later depicting crowds celebrating Chinese New Year in 1987.

Chinese Students’ Athletic Association soccer team, ~1925. Reference code: AM1108-S4-: CVA 689-66

Swimmers at English Bay, ~1929. Reference code: AM1535-: CVA 99-2471

The video wall shows can be viewed in the Archives’ gallery space, or in the City Hall rotunda across from the elevators. You can also view them on YouTube.

Tribute: Cokie Roberts

We’ve pulled two segment with Cokie Roberts done with Brian Lehrer in 2015 and 2016.

2015: (audio above) Cokie Roberts talks about the women of Washington, from the Civil War era up to Hillary Clinton.

2016: (audio below) NPR commentator Cokie Roberts discusses her new book about the influence of women in the founding of America.

Museum Of World Cultures Internship

My name is Paige Hoeflich and I am a senior here at UNCW, double majoring in Anthropology and Communication Studies. I am originally from Maryland but moved to North Carolina in 2016 for school. Shortly after beginning my freshmen year, I uncovered my passion for culture and exploring cross-cultural interactions. During my time here, I have had the opportunity to study abroad, meet a ton of interesting people, complete a DIS research project on student adaptability and success, and grow both professionally and personally. My time here at UNCW has been packed full of many amazing experiences and opportunities, with my internship in the Museum of World Cultures being my current adventure! 

While completing this internship I will research and uncover information about groups of artifacts from the Ancient Mesoamerica region, which will be used to expand and supplement existing records. The first set of artifacts I am working with are from ancient Veracruz, the home of the Totonac people.


Currently I am researching and composing short excerpts that will be integrated into an online exhibit at the end of internship. The three artifacts that I am currently working with are a hollow smiling figure, a warrior that also doubles as a ceremonial whistle, and a seated figure with smooth black detailing signifying it was most likely used for sacrificial purposes.


The above artifacts range from 400-700 C.E. and provide a glimpse into the cultural practices of an ancient people. Handling these artifacts is a privilege, and I aim to enhance their history and accessibility, so other people can have the same opportunity to explore the history of the Veracruz region.

This internship will help me to develop technical skills in museum registration and curation practices and provide exposure to a professional work environment before graduation. In the future I hope to work in a field that combines the skills I have learned from both my Anthropology and Communication classes. This internship provides me with the opportunity to combine both of my majors while learning new skills in a field I have never explored before. Above all else, my internship is a learning experience that will provide me with the tools and technical know-how necessary to operate as a professional in the business world. 



Map images retrieved from:

Photos taken by Paige Hoeflich



Digital Preservation Framework Released for Public Comment

Today NARA is releasing the entirety of our digital preservation framework for public comment. This digital preservation framework consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.

Photograph of World’s First Computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. National Archives Identifier 594262

The National Archives 2018–2022 Strategic Plan embraces a vision that ensures ongoing access to extraordinary volumes of government informa­tion to bring greater meaning to the American experience. Digital preservation is critical to this work, as evidenced by the June 2019 direction (M-19-21, Transition to Electronic Records) to Federal agencies to transition business processes and record keeping to a fully electronic environment and to end the National Archives’ acceptance of paper records by December 31, 2022.

We’re in the process of shifting the entire government off of paper and to all electronic record-keeping, and we play a major role in helping the agencies get to that point. Our new strategic plan is the roadmap; by putting records management and digital preservation at the forefront of our priorities, we will help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness while making the Federal government more responsive to the American people. 

Our digital preservation subject matter experts, led by Director of Digital Preservation Leslie Johnston, have been hard at work to prepare the National Archives for this change. They have formalized a set of documents that describe how we identify risks to digital files and prioritize them for action, and created specific plans for the preservation of these many file formats.

The release of the digital preservation framework allows NARA staff, our agency stakeholders, the public, and experts in the archival and preservation fields to weigh in and assist us in creating the standard for digital preservation in the Federal government. We are also ensuring that our process for identifying and mitigating risk in the electronic records that we preserve and make accessible is as transparent as possible.

The documents are available at:

Please use the Issues feature to leave comments or questions, or to start a discussion. The matrix and plans will be open for comment until November 1, 2019. After that time, National Archives staff will take all the feedback and update the matrix and plans, incorporating the comments. Then final versions will be publicly released, and updated on an ongoing basis in response to changing risks and new technologies and formats.

Country and Western Music with Dorothy Horstman

“Hello, Country fans…,” was Dorothy A. Horstman’s (1930-1999) welcome to listeners to Country and Western Music on WNYC in the 1970s. At the time, the weekly half-hour slot was the only outlet for the genre in the New York metropolitan area. Admitting the show was a significant departure from the station’s regular classical fare, A.M. Program Manager Richard Pyatt told Billboard it was the station’s aim to “to introduce a new musical sound to those listeners who have never experienced this art form.”[1] 

Horstman’s first program (May 23, 1972) sampled selections from the 50-year history of country, ranging from Vernon Dalhart to Charley Pride. For the next five years her broadcasts demonstrated a lively, yet scholarly, approach by tracing the history and influence of the genre, and drawing on primary research from her rich collection of oral history interviews. Typically, the programs were devoted to individual artists, composers, or themes, and included her own keen commentary and insight. Among them, for example, a two-part roundup of ‘Grand Ole Opry’ performers from its beginnings in 1925, a profile of Jimmie Rodgers, tracing his influence to the modern day, and interviews with legendary performers like Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Hank Snow, and Roy Acuff.

Prior to her WNYC broadcasts, Horstman had been a songwriter and country music journalist writing for Country Song Roundup and Country Music, as well as being an associate editor of Country Music Star Life. Born in Georgia and raised in Louisiana, she attended the University of Texas at Austin in the 1950s and was trained as a registered nurse. In 1959 Horstman married and would later make her home in New York City. Her interest in songwriting gave way to a more methodical approach to research in country and western music in general. Beginning in 1954 until her passing in 1999, she conducted hundreds of ground-breaking interviews with the leading artists and performers of the genre and was meticulous in her research on country and western music ballads and their origins.[2] 

Dorothy Horstman’s pioneering research resulted in the publication of the definitive Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy in 1975. The work is a collection of lyrics to more than 360 country songs, along with comments by the artist or composer explaining how each song was written. Prior to her death in September 1999, she completed her work on the encyclopedic America’s Best Loved Country Songs. The book covers more than 3,200 classic country music songs from the genre’s earliest roots to the end of 1989. It was posthumously published.

Note: I’m afraid the above audio is just the intro and outro to Dorothy Horstman’s first program. The amount of copyrighted music precludes us from posting the entire program.

____________________________________[1] “NYC’s Municipal Station Adds Country Segment,” Billboard, June 10, 1972. pg. 60.

[2] Smithsonian Institution, Guide to the Dorothy Horstman Oral History Field and Radio Show Recordings. 



A Quick update: BCGLA photo identification

With LGBTQ2+ history month in October right around the corner, it is a perfect time to look toward the future of the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photo identification project. With East Side Pride, the Pride Proclamation, and the Sunset Beach Festival, it was a busy summer for the Archives and we are excited for what the coming months will hold. Photo identification and community engagement are ongoing processes, and we have some exciting things planned for the fall to ensure that there is continued work being done with the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives. For now, we have a couple important announcements regarding the project.

Our busy booth at the Sunset Beach Festival. Photo by Heather Gordon

We are pleased to announce that our online tool for photo identification is up and running and can now be accessed here. This online mechanism provides instructions for how to browse and search the photos on the Archives’ website as well as tools to supply information and comments. Photo identification is fundamental for developing historical research on LGBTQ2+ history in BC as well as being important for the access, remembrance, and sharing of these photos within the community. We are hoping that this tool allows people to more actively engage with the BCGLA photo collection and have an accessible way to share their knowledge.

A visitor identifying people in our binders. Photo by Heather Gordon

We are also in the
process of organizing a formal photo identification event later this fall. We
will be putting on a large scale version of what we had at our Pride booths
with even more binders and digital copies of the photos. We are excited for the
future of the BCGLA and would love to hear from you if you have any insights on
potential groups or organizations that would be interested in attending photo
identification events or would like to be in touch with the Archives team.

If you would like to
get more information on the photo identification tool or events, please feel
free to send us an email at You can also stay tuned on both
Facebook and Twitter for updates regarding
this event and other BCGLA news.