FAU Libraries Positioned for More Distinction with New Recorded Sound Archives
BOCA RATON, FL (August 24, 2010) – Florida Atlantic University Libraries used the tens of thousands of rare and historic recordings it received recently from the estate of a Cleveland music collector to create a recorded sound archive, and it plans to further distinguish itself among the nation’s top libraries by digitizing the recordings and putting them online.
Among the treasures the FAU Libraries’ staff and volunteers have inventoried are 50,000 vintage 78 rpm recordings, including a collection of vi sually stunning picture records, historic radio transcriptions, including President Roosevelt’s speech to the U.S. Congress following Pearl Harbor; and hundreds of original recordings by Italian tenor Enrico Caruso.
The v intage 78 recordings donated by the family of Jack Saul, who died in May 2009 at 86, along with FAU Libraries’ extensive holdings of Jazz recordings and Judaic music, inspired the rapidly growing Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries, which now has more than 150,000 phonograph records and other sound recordings.
“The Recorded Sound Archives makes us one of the top 20 libraries in the nation for sound recordings,” said Dr. William Miller, dean of Libraries at FAU. “The word is out among collectors, individuals and educational institutions that we are interested in preserving and digitizing rare and historic recordings.”
Vintage records, also called 78 rpms because of their playing speed of 78 revolutions per minute, were produced between 1901 and the mid-1950s. Music,speeches, radio transcriptions and even movie soundtracks were recorded in this format. The recordings were created with technology that is no longer used, so the 78s are considered artifacts in the recording industry.
“The Jack Saul collection was perhaps one of the largest such collections in the country not already owned by a library,” said Miller. “His vintage records greatly expand the panoply of recorded material we have that will be useful in instruction and research.”
Saul’s family also donated some of his enormous collection to the Library of Congress and the Cleveland Orchestra. Unpacking Saul’s collection at the Boca Raton-based library has been daunting, but staff and volunteers at The Recorded Sound Archives are digitizing the materials, and the records eventually will be online.
“Our plan is to create digitized collections of recordings by some legendary performers, like Enrico Caruso, Al Jolson or Jascha Heifetz, and then make it available to listeners through the FAU Libraries website,” said Dr. Maxine Schackman, administrative director of The Recorded Sound Archives.
Part of this rich collection of vintage recordings are 32 of the known 67 titles produced as Vogue Picture Records between May 1946 and April 1947 by Sav-Way Industries. The 10-inch picture records feature lesser-known big band, popular and country artists, and because of their colorful and risqué pictures were stand-outs among the drab black shellac records that dominated the market at the time. Illustrations of musicians, western scenes, themes and images of love and courtship are embedded in transparent vinyl on both sides of the record, creating a recording almost too pretty to spin on a phonograph player.
“ I’ve never seen anything like them. I think it is possible that we might have one of the most extensive collections of these rare recordings,” said Schackman.
The Recorded Sound Archives is also creating an inventory of the more than 20,000 jazz recordings donated by Dr. Henry Ivey in 2006 and recently transferred to the library from FAU’s department of music. Volunteers are entering information about the recordings into a database so that musicians and others will be able to perform a search.
The Judaica Sound Archives (JSA), created in 2005, established FAU Libraries as an international leader in the collection and digitization of early phonograph recordings. It now boasts a collection of more than 15,000 non-duplicated recordings. Its website ( www.fau.edu/jsa) offers listeners over 11,000 songs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish.
“Our long-term goal is to make the music and voice on these recordings available to listeners. Because some of the 78s are in the public domain we can put the music on our websites,” said Schackman. “ Those by Jewish artists are already being processed, digitized and made available through the JSA website.”
For more information on The Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries or to volunteer, contact Dr. Maxine Schackman at 561-297-3765 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Nathan Tinanoff at 561-297-2207 or email@example.com . Information on the collections also is available at www.library.fau.edu/rsa
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu .