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2012 National Recording Registry Highlights

New recordings marked for preservation

The 2012 inductees to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience. James H. Billington released the list, saying the new selections will be made available because of their “importance to the nation’s aural legacy.” These additions bring the total number of recordings to 375.

“Congress created the National Recording Registry to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio heritage and to underscore our responsibility for long-term preservation, to assure that legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations,” said Billington.

Under the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the librarian must, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board, annually select 25 recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. The registry features spoken-word and musical recordings from 1918-1980.

Nominations were gathered through online submissions from the public and from the NRPB, which comprises leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation. The Library is currently accepting nominations for the next registry.

The Library is identifying and preserving the best existing versions of each recording on the registry, which will then be housed in the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., which houses nearly 3.5 million sound recordings.

Highlights from the 2012 additions include:

“Bacon, Beans and Limousines,” Will Rogers (Oct. 18, 1931)
A recording artist, stage and screen star, Will Rogers also became a star of radio broadcasting. During the Great Depression, he took part in a national broadcast with President Herbert Hoover to kick off an unemployment-relief campaign. Rogers praised Hoover’s integrity and intentions, but also decried the tragedy of hard times in a land of plenty. The broadcast demonstrates the status Rogers had gained as a spokesperson for the common man.

D-Day Radio Broadcast, George Hicks (June 5-6, 1944)
The D-Day invasion was still secret when radio correspondent George Hicks committed his observations of it to a portable film recorder on the deck of a ship carrying troops to the beaches of France, and the recording was later broadcast. Highlights were later released on 78-rpm records, and Hicks’ spontaneity and composure were lauded. Before this broadcast, recordings had been rarely used for the news.

President’s Message Relayed from Atlas Satellite, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Dec. 19, 1958)
On Dec.18, 1958, the U.S. launched into orbit the world’s first communications satellite in response to the Soviet Union’s successful orbiting of Sputnik. Eisenhower responded by increasing defense spending. Project Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment carried by an Atlas satellite transmitted a prerecorded message by Eisenhower the day after its launch. It was heard on ground stations via shortwave radio after signals from earth triggered a tape recorder aboard the craft.

“Music Time in Africa,” Leo Sarkisian, host (July 29, 1973)
First aired in 1965, it is the longest-running English-language show in the history of Voice of America. Leo Sarkisian, the creator and host of the program was recruited in 1963 by Edward R. Murrow. Sarkisian would record in every nation on the African continent, as well as in Bangladesh and Pakistan. On this representative program, Sarkisian discusses and presents music recorded in Mauritania.

For the full list, visit the Library of Congress’ website.