My time at the Marr Sound Archives has been an amazing learning experience. The people who work at the archives are all awesome people and Kelley Martin especially has been a kind, supportive, and all around great supervisor. Splitting my time up between archiving and public history was a good decision because it allowed me to get a sense of both sides of the profession. It was nice to be able to create an online feature of the John B. Gage collection I processed. If any future UMKC historians read this post, they should seriously consider interning at the Marr Sound Archives, especially if they have a research interest that can be incorporated into the Marr collection. As I have expressed in my previous posts, there is so much to be explored at the archives. The amount of 498 Capstone papers that could come out of the material housed at the Marr Archives would fill volumes.
Well, I hope my digital friends and real friends and stranger friends get something out of the John B. Gage Audio Collection Omeka site, and if not, that is okay too.
You will be happy, very happy indeed, to know that the John B. Gage Audio Omeka site is finally completed. As I write this, I am imagining thunderous applause filling up the room. I look up, just like John Gage did at his inauguration ceremony of 1940, and I see the people on the balcony rising to their feet. They are smiling, laughing, hollering . . . everything is in slow motion.
They are cheering for me and you, John Gage. Their cheers, caught by the KMBC microphone, set in vinyl, saved by you and your family over the years, saved by the Marr Sound Archives, and now finding a new life in the digital platform of Roy Rosenzweig’s Omeka site. The journey is confounding, and it is surely not over.
As you navigate the site there are a couple things to keep in mind. These audio samplings are mere samplings and represent a much vaster collection of recordings that you can find at the Marr Sound Archives. While ironing has been attempted, there are still some wrinkles within the site most obvious of which is the fact that clicking on the John B. Gage picture at the top of the page will take one back to the UMKC University site. Try to stay within the lines of navigation located on the right. Also, I know I can include more text for better context.
Otherwise, it has been fun. Let me know what you think! I will look for you at the American Royal, standing next to Ruth Hussey eating barbeque.
Back again with The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan discussed in the last post. When I read through this information the first time, I marked ideas or “recommendations” made by the authors that caught my attention. I was struck by the fact that the Library of Congress has nearly “3.5 million recordings that embody more than 120 years of audio history.” What the authors suggest though, is that the digitized audio is not reaching enough researchers. In order to make these recordings more accessible, a centralized network is needed.
As an independent musician, I thought it was especially interesting how the Library of Congress recognized the realities of independent musicians today. The writers illustrate the fact that artists are tending to not copyright their music, and are oftentimes not manufacturing hard copies of the music. More and more, music is disseminated online through the channels of BandCamp, Soundcloud, and Spotify. The Library of Congress personnel who authored the National Recording Preservation Plan suggest that the Library of Congress should form working relationships with record labels and other music industries to ensure that engineers are recording music in such a way that it can be preserved. Considering the amount of music out there, a multilateral approach is needed.
Now, you may ask, how does one preserve audio? Well the answer is complex but essentially it entails creating a digital file from a record, reel-to-reel, tape, CD, or any other format of sound. The digitization process involves a set of best practices and standardizations one should adhere to in order that the digital file be as sturdy as possible. Once the archival digital file is created, upkeep from archivists is necessary to ensure its longevity.
One of the readings I was responsible for during my internship was The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan. This booklet, released in December 2012, sets forth an ambitious plan for preserving the audio heritage of the United States, and addresses many of the obstacles to this process. I found the reading to be very technical, but also quite interesting. Early on, the authors bring up the idea of a National Directory that would act as a central database for all recorded sounds. Having a centralized database like this would enable sound archives, like the Marr Sound Archives, to know which records and historical broadcasts have already been digitized by other institutions. Not only would this help to organize all of the audio information out there, but it would allow sound archivists to better prioritize the digitization of their collections. This is an especially important issue considering that many really old recordings are beginning to breakdown, and archives are often overwhelmed by large workloads and underfunding.
Also of interest is the way in which the book highlights the obstacles created by federal legislation. There is a federal copyright law that allows libraries and archives to copy audio recordings since 1972, but due to some strange nuances of the law, pre-1972 recordings are under a different copyright. Because of these issues, it is difficult to obtain permission to preserve pre-1972 recordings which happen to be the very ones that need it the most. Furthermore, these confusions make it more difficult to obtain funding for large preservation projects.
The meditation on this reading will continue in the next post.
Hello friends. I realize that I never explained the extensive planning process I went through for the John B. Gage Omeka site. Before I created an account, I caught wind that I was supposed to draw out a map of how I wanted to organize the materials of my “exhibit.” Because Omeka is geared towards archivists, librarians, and historians, the idea of an exhibit is an important one, as the site encourages people to approach it as they would a room with walls. This method of visualization helps create a concrete system of organization. After compiling a list of audio files, potential photographs, and commentary, I drew out this diagram of how I envisioned the site looking:
I have continued to stay pretty true to my original conception, but like I mentioned in my last post, I have severely cut down on the amount of audio I will feature. Taking the time to envision the site before I started uploading a bunch of files has really helped me to stay focused. It can be a little daunting when one is suddenly immersed in twenty, thirty, forty items that all require their unique bibliographic and metadata information. These pictures, although rough, were important to lessening the amount of stress I experienced while creating my beautiful exhibit. More to come soon!
Well, well, well…I have been working with Omeka for a couple weeks now and I am starting to get the hang of it. Omeka allows one to get as deep, or as surface-level, as they like, and with my lack of html skills, I am barely scratching the surface. This is okay though, because despite my lackluster skills, I am still able to create a pretty slick and user-friendly site. I have mostly been learning through online video tutorials, as well as good old-fashioned trial and error. I was pleased when I was able to utilize my dormant Photoshop skills in creating a homepage image. This is what I came up with.
What do you think? The picture is courtesy of Colin Gage, John B. Gage’s grandson, and the font was discovered online at one of the many free font junctions. It is called Urania Czech and transports one directly to the 1940s…I have realized that I did not need as many sound clips as I originally planned. I am using about 20 one-minute clips out of the 40 original ones I had created. It just made more sense, and I did not want to overwhelm you, my time-conscious cyberspace aficionado and Kansas City political history audio treasure hunter. Yes, I wanted to go light on you. I imagine the next time I post, I will have the site up and running. Cross your fingers! I have included an advertisement audio clip that I will not be using in the John B. Gage Omeka site, but that I get a kick out of. Modern Design! Enjoy!
Oh man. For those researchers out there who have never come across the KMBC collection at the Marr Sound Archive, you need to check it out!! The Arthur B. Church KMBC radio collection offers an eclectic mix of local and national news, music shows, interviews, Kansas City events, political advertisements, local business advertisements, and serial programs from roughly 1930 to the 1950s. Between 2011-2012, the Marr Sound Archive digitized and documented 445 hours of material with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. You can read more about it here.
I have been digging into the KMBC collection in order to find more information on John B. Gage, the mayor of Kansas City from 1940-1946. Due to the hard work that went into archiving this collection, there is ample information to aid researchers in their work. Not only have I been able to discover information on John Gage, but I have also come across many other surprises. For example, I have included here a sound clip from the 1941 American Royal in Kansas City. In this recording, one finds an interesting crossroads between popular culture and local politics, as interviewer Larry Clark lets city manager L.P. Cookingham and actress Ruth Hussey speak to one another.
Those interested in archiving can access the finding aid for this recording here.
The Arthur B. Church KMBC radio collection is invaluable for those interested in the history of radio broadcast and Kansas City, and contains a plethora of subjects from which to conduct interesting research.
The first items that got digitized and handed back to me were two cassette tapes entitled “Recollections.” Recorded in the 1960s, “Recollections” consists of an elderly John Gage recalling his childhood and family life in Kansas City. Apparently read from a manuscript, Gage’s lawyer-like delivery conjures up scenes of Civil War era Kansas City and the lively development of the early metropolis. It was fascinating to hear about Colonel Thomas H. Swope, guerrilla warfare, and the wild celebrations that occurred upon the completion of the Missouri-Pacific railroad and the Hannibal Bridge connection. Here is an audio clip from the story Gage’s father told him about the completion of the Missouri-Pacific railroad.
Equipped with a laptop, notebook, and headphones, I have immersed myself in the fascinating stories of “Recollections.” The goal of the finding aid I am creating is to strike a balance between enough information and too much information. This balance will enable researchers, and anyone else who may be interested, to assess the importance of the audio without having to listen all the way through. In the meantime, Marr Archives will store the hard copies of the John B. Gage collection, while the digital archival copies will be stored in the larger Missouri University server.
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.
Now that the collection is getting organized, the next step will be to listen.