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NSF has Chosen MSU as Homesite to $3.6 Million Project to Preserve the Spoken Word

7/14/99

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University has been chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead a $3.6 million project that will revolutionize audiotape repositories across the U.S.

The National Gallery of the Spoken Word (NGSW), made possible by a five-year grant from the NSF Digital Library Initiative program, will create a fully searchable digitized database of historical voice recordings that span the 20th century.

A collaborative project among the humanities, education, library science and engineering, NGSW will provide the first large broad-based repository of its kind that will be easily accessible via the Internet.

The NGSW will bring digitized historical speech across the Internet into living rooms, classrooms, research laboratories, libraries and government offices across the globe. Available to all visitors free of charge, exhibits in the NGSW repository will remain on display permanently since the NGSW faces no space limitations and never needs to rotate items out of the collection.

"This project holds tremendous promise for researchers in a wide range of fields," said Mark Kornbluh, director of MATRIX: Center for the Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences, executive director of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences On-Line and associate professor of history at MSU. "We are developing a targeted range of search mechanisms that will allow users of the NGSW to not only identify key words, concepts and names, but will also enable keyword, topic, speaker and language searches of the sound files themselves."

"This grant is a hallmark for MSU," said MSU Provost Lou Anna K. Simon. "It recognizes the efforts within the College of Arts and Letters, supported by Libraries, Computing and Technology units, to be a national leader in assuring that the arts and humanities have a prominent place in the digital age."

By delivering the transformative power of language, rhetoric and speech via the Internet, the NGSW has the potential to create a worldwide virtual community. "The American public has demonstrated repeatedly that it will engage in and learn from serious cultural and historical debates if they are made accessible to them. Cultural tourism is booming, for example, and C-SPAN continues to have a devoted group of followers," Kornbluh said. "This NGSW will reach out to all levels of American society, engaging the widest possible range of members of this democracy." (over)

FOR MSU NEWS on the Web, go to http://www.msu.edu/unit/univrel/media/

The NGSW will consist of high-quality voice materials from collections from MSU, the University of Colorado, Chicago Historical Society, and Northwestern University.

To listen to John F. Kennedy's speech about the Cuban missile crisis or Sir Winston Churchill's "The Sinews of Peace," or for more information about the NGSW, visit http://www.ngsw.org.

Attached are additional facts about the NGSW and a listing of the gallery collections.

FACTS ABOUT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF THE SPOKEN WORD

NATIONAL GALLERY OF THE SPOKEN WORD GALLERY COLLECTIONS

The collections will be added as the project progresses. The proposed collections will include over 60,000 bibliographic records. Drawing from the rich collections of the Chicago Historical Society, Michigan State University's Vincent Voice Library, the MSU Museum and Northwestern University. Collections within the NGSW will include:

News and Newsmakers: Drawing primarily on the holdings of MSU's Vincent Voice Library, this collection will include selections of speeches by Theodore Roosevelt, Eugene V. Debs and Buffalo Bill Cody, as well as news broadcasts and special events from 1940 through the 1980s which are currently housed as part of the Historical Voices and Janak Collections at MSU.

20th Century Inventors and Scientists: From Thomas Edison's first cylinder recordings to John Glenn talking about exploring space, this collection will include recordings that are historically significant both because of their content and their speaker, as well as the technical achievements discussed. These holdings are currently located in the Vincent Voice Library at MSU.

American Life: Using the oral interviews on which Studs Terkel based his books, and which are owned by the Chicago Historical Society, this collection will broadcast a broad range of American experience and stories that span social, political and cultural life in the 20th Century.

Chicago Neighborhoods: Owned by the Chicago Historical Society, this collection includes family genealogies and oral histories conducted in several Chicago neighborhoods by local high school students. These recordings provide a detailed account of urban life and offer a full range of neighborhood accents for linguistic study.

Folk Life and Lore: This collection is composed of taped interviews with a variety of American folk artists. Recorded stories of Native American quilters and Mexican American folk artists from across the Midwest are a special strength of the collection. These holdings are currently housed at the MSU Museum.

History and Politics Out Loud: Voices of U.S. presidents, secretaries of state and other government officials make up the vast majority of this collection, which is housed at Northwestern University.

Supreme Court Decisions: U.S. justices and a range of court cases can be heard in these recordings, providing a far greater range of experience to listeners than reading the transcripts alone. This collection is also provided by Northwestern University.

World War II: Including a selection of broadcast news from the Ripps collection at the Vincent Voice Library at MSU, this collection includes broadcast news recorded from 1940 to 1945, from Pearl Harbor to the dropping of the atomic bombs.

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