National Recording Registry Includes Three National Archives Sound Recordings
Press Release · Friday, April 8, 2005

Washington, DC. . . . Six sound recordings from the National Archives were named as part of the third annual selection of 50 recordings to the National Recording Registry. They include: Armistice Day Broadcast by Woodrow Wilson (1923), We Hold These Truths radio broadcast. (1941), Remarks by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong broadcast from the moon (1969), NBC radio broadcast coverage of Charles A. Lindbergh's arrival and reception in Washington, D.C. (1927), Edward R. Murrow broadcast from London (1940), "Old Soldiers Never Die" (Farewell Address to Congress), Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur (1951).

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.

Three of the recordings selected this year from the holdings of the National Archives are original. They are: "Armistice Day Broadcast by Woodrow Wilson," (1923); "We Hold These Truths radio broadcast," (1941); and "Remarks by Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong, broadcast from the moon"(1969).

Armistice Day Broadcast by Woodrow Wilson. (1923)
This recording of former President Woodrow Wilson made by phonograph technician Frank L. Capps is the earliest surviving sound recording of a regular radio broadcast. It is also believed to be the earliest known example of a recording made by electrical, rather than acoustic, means.

We Hold These Truths. Radio broadcast. (1941)
Commissioned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, radio producer and writer Norman Corwin created We Hold These Truths under the auspices of the Office of Education. The one-hour drama exploring American values aired one week after the invasion of Pearl Harbor. The broadcast was carried on all four radio networks simultaneously to an audience of more than 60 million listeners, roughly half of the U.S. population at the time, and was the largest audience in history to listen to a dramatic presentation.

Remarks by Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong broadcast from the moon. (1969)
The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon had the world glued to its television set, yet the most enduring memories of the achievement are aural: "Houston. Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.... I'm going to step off the LEM now. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." These words, first broadcast from the moon, have become some of the most recognizable and memorable sentences spoken in U.S. history.

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.

  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower's message, relayed from the Atlas satellite 'Score'. December 17, 1958; relayed December 19, 1958. Eisenhower's message, recorded in the Oval Office for broadcast from the Atlas satellite, and a copy of the message as received from space at the tracking station at Cape Canaveral, Florida, preserves the first voice received from space.

  • 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, contact Charles DeArman of the Special Media Archives Services Division at 301-837-3520. Or visit to search the Archival Research Catalog (ARC).

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For press information, please call the National Archives public affairs staff at 202-501-5526.


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