June 9, 2009
The Sounds of American Life and Legend Are Tapped for the Seventh Annual National Recording Registry
The unforgettable lyrics of a Broadway and movie classic, the historic recital of one of the nation’s greatest contraltos, and the speech that warned of "an iron curtain" descending across the continent have made the list of recordings that have been identified as cultural, artistic and historical treasures to be preserved for future generations. Today, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington named the 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress as part of its efforts to ensure that the nation’s aural history is not lost or forgotten.
Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with selecting 25 recordings that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and are at least 10 years old. The selections for 2008 bring the total number of recordings in the registry to 275.
"This year’s selections lovingly reflect the diversity and humanity of our sound heritage where astonishing discoveries and a vibrant creative spirit seem to appear around every corner," said Billington. "Our daily lives and memories are suffused with the joyous notes of recorded sound, making these choices extremely difficult. The Library, in collaboration with others, will now work to ensure that these cultural touchstones are preserved for future generations to hear and experience."
The list of recordings named to the registry features a diverse selection of spoken and musical recordings that span the years 1908-1966. They cover a broad scope of the American soundscape, encompassing the nation’s rich tapestry of imaginative and disparate voices.
Among the selections are Marian Anderson’s recital at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939; Mary Margaret McBride’s interview with Zora Neale Hurston; the sounds of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the Louisiana swamp forest, the last confirmed aural evidence of what was once the largest woodpecker species in the United States; studio recordings of violinist Jascha Heifetz from 1917-24; the recording credited with launching the American audiobook industry, "A Child’s Christmas in Wales"; Etta James’ "At Last" crossover masterpiece; Winston Churchill’s "Sinews of Peace" speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri; and the original cast recording of "West Side Story."
Additions to the registry also feature notable performances by The Who, Oran "Hot Lips" Page, the Andrew Sisters, Ray Bolger, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.