By Kelly Hangauer
My name is Kelly Hangauer. I am a senior at UMKC and I will be graduating with a History B.A. and German Studies minor in May 2015. This semester I am embarking on an archiving internship that will focus on the John B. Gage collection. So you know, John Gage was the mayor of Kansas City from 1940-1946 and was a part of the reform movement that “cleaned up” local government after years of economic and political misrule under Tom Pendergast. Housed in the Marr Sound Archives, Gage’s collection of records, cassettes, and reel-to-reel tape will hopefully offer greater insight into this important time in Kansas City history.
The second I walked into the Marr Sound Archives, I knew I had made the right decision. Inconspicuously placed in the bottom floor of the Miller Nichols Library, the Marr Archives is a gold mine; its contents include hundreds of thousands of recordings of popular and obscure music, government programs, radio broadcasts, oral histories…the list goes on.
My first task was to organize, label, and systematize the random collection of records that were in John B. Gage’s box. Some of these records included glass disks that were beginning to weather, along with 6 and 10 inch records that were lacking identification. Using Excel, I set up an organizational process from which the records could be digitized. Numbers were assigned, descriptions were made, and fresh new sleeves were marked.
The mysterious records were then transformed into a digital format. Scott, the sound engineer, let me observe his process. His space is reminiscent of a recording studio and contains multiple types of reel-to-reel players and record players. After finding the appropriate stylus, Scott let the records roll as we discussed the sonic surprises he has encountered over the years.