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Press Release
March 23, 2004


National Recording Registry Includes Three National Archives Sound Recordings

College Park, MD. . . Three sound recordings from the National Archives were named as part of the second annual selection of 50 recordings to the National Recording Registry. They include: Huey P. Long’s "Every Man a King" speech (1935); A Complete Day of Radio Broadcasting (September 21, 1939); and the Inaugural Ceremony of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961).

The National Recording Registry, established under the terms of the National Preservation Act of 2000, names 50 recordings each year that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Five hundred and thirteen nominations for the registry were considered from members of the public and from the National Recording Preservation Board.

Two of the recordings selected this year from the holdings of the National Archives are original: The Complete Day of Broadcasting of Washington radio station WJSV from 1939, and the Inaugural Ceremony of President John F. Kennedy.

Huey P. Long. "Every Man a King" speech (1935)
Huey Long (1893-1935), governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930, but did not take his Senate seat until 1932, after he had handpicked a successor for the governorship. A radical populist, he proposed a "Share the Wealth" plan, with the motto, "Every Man a King." The wealth was to be shared by increases in inheritance taxes on the rich, which would "guarantee a family wealth of around $5,000; enough for a home and automobile, a radio, and the ordinary conveniences." In this 1935 radio speech the Senator outlines his plan and explains why he no longer supports President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

WJSV (Washington, D.C.) Complete Day of Radio Broadcasting (September 21, 1939)
At the request of the National Archives, radio station WJSV, a CBS network affiliate in Washington D.C., recorded its entire broadcast day, from sign-on to sign-off (6:30 AM to 1:00 AM) on Thursday, September 21, 1939. Everything is heard as it was broadcast from rise and shine with Arthur Godfrey at 6:30 a.m.; through midday soap operas and dramas with the "Romance of Helen Trent" and the "Life and Loves of Dr. Susan". The afternoon includes an address by President Franklin Roosevelt to Congress and at 4 p.m. the continuation of the broadcast of a baseball game. At 6 p.m. a broadcast of "Amos ‘n Andy" is heard, as well as the evening programs on the CBS schedule. The evening closes out with big band remotes. Heard are all programs broadcast that day including station breaks, commercials, technical difficulties, along with all the music, comedy, drama, news, and advertisements that aired in its entirety. This extraordinary set of recordings represents the earliest documentation of a complete day of radio. It is an aural snapshot that is totally authentic and unique in the annals of the history of broadcasting.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Frost and others. Kennedy Inaugural Ceremony (1961) John F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States on January 20, 1961, a bitterly cold and snowy day in Washington. The youngest person ever elected to the Presidency and the first Roman Catholic, his inaugural address spoke of the "New Frontier" and declared to the nation, "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." Kennedy had invited noted poet, Robert Frost, to take part in the ceremony as well. Frost wrote a poem, "Dedication," for the event but, due to the sun’s glare on the snow, was unable to read all of it. Instead, Frost movingly recited from memory, "The Gift Outright," a poem he had written years earlier.

These three recordings are part of the National Archives’ audiovisual collection, one of the world’s largest. There are more than 260,000 unique reels of film, 225,000 sound recordings, and a rapidly growing collection of more than 90,000 videotapes. The films are primarily nonfiction and consist of edited and unedited footage, documentaries, newsreels, news film, instructional films, screen magazines, combat films, research and development test films, and other formats. The sound recordings consist of voice recordings of speeches, interviews, press conferences, interrogations, proceedings, and meetings. Video recordings consist of television news programs; telecast proceedings of the U.S. Congress; agency information programs; public service spots; press conferences; meetings; interviews of federal officials; edited programs and unedited video footage of historical events.

Among the many other original and obscure recordings are:

  • Woodrow Wilson’s Armistice Day Speech from 1923, the earliest surviving recording of a radio broadcast.

  • National Defense Test Day, 1924, with General John J. Pershing, the first national hookup of 18 radio stations.

  • FCC monitorings of radio broadcasts from 1932-1935 to document programs selling medical potions, elixirs, drugs, physic readings, and other forms of medical quackery.

  • Radio coverage of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7-8, 1941; D-Day, June 6-7, 1944; V-E Day, May 8, 1945; V-J Day, August 14-15, 1945.

  • Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, 1945-1949.

  • Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court of the United States, 1955-2002.

  • Dallas Police Department dictation recordings monitoring the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

The National Archives and Records Administration ensures, for the citizen and the public servant, for the President and the Congress and the Courts, ready access to essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience from the nation's beginnings in 1774. Among the records in its holdings are the Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. The National Archives and Records Administration also holds in trust for present and future generations the records of the nation's civil, military and diplomatic activities. Besides the motion picture, sound and video recordings, in Washington alone these records total more than four billion pieces of paper and over ten million still pictures; 2,630,397 maps and charts; 3,065,870 architectural and engineering plans; and 18,037,443 aerial photographs.

For more information about the National Archives motion picture, sound, and video holdings, please contact Charles DeArman of the Special Media Archives Services Division at 301-837-3520. Or visit www.archives.gov to search the Archival Research Catalog (ARC).

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For press information, please call the National Archives public affairs staff at 301-837-1700.

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