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Posts Tagged ‘Wire Recordings’

Contributed by Jodi Kearns.

Last summer, we digitized the wire recordings from Dr. David P. Boder’s collection and discovered 17 spools of 1951 interviews with a woman named Cynthia.

These records document a 3-month ongoing professional relationship of an often crying Cynthia confiding in Dr. Boder about her family and friends, her desire to be a singer and a writer, and steps she’d taken to becoming a physically and mentally healthier person. Throughout the recordings, Boder reminds Cynthia to eat breakfast and to try to be around people who support her.

Listen to a couple of excerpts from Cynthia and Boder’s nearly 20 hours of recorded conversations. [Note: It is difficult to be certain the speed and pitch of interviews are accurate when we’re reformatting obsolete analog media.]

 

The first selected excerpt, Cynthia is discussing living alone, rather than having a roommate. [Spool 10, March 23, 1951]

In this next clip from the second-last interview, Boder reinforces his early advice for physical and mental health care. [Spool 15, April 21, 1951]

 

Two years after these conversations were recorded, Boder gave a transcript of the first spool to Dr. J. F. T. Bugental with a letter praising Bugental for his “most useful contribution to interview work.” Boder may be referring to a 1953 publication in the Journal of Clinical Psychology where Bugental describes a technique whereby clinicians use recordings and transcripts of sessions with patients to analyse subject matter of both speakers. “You may use it for any scientific purpose you wish,” Boder offers his colleague. In this letter, written two years after his recorded interviews with Cynthia, Boder seems to know only a little information about Cynthia, including that she had received shock treatments and that her prognosis was “rather grave.”

 

Boderletter

excerpt from a letter to Dr. Bugental from Dr. David P. Boder (March 3, 1953) [David P. Boder papers, M24, Folder “Patient Protocols”]

Cynthia is the pseudonym Boder uses in his transcriptions of the first spool that he gave to Bugental. The transcript includes an index of names and where these names appear within the transcript: “Kim, 20th Page;” “Nancy, 42nd Page.” Cynthia names the editor of the newspaper where she worked and the names of an ex-boyfriend and his new wife. Currently, there are Wikipedia articles that verify these three people existed and were an editor, a musician, and an actor. We were able to locate newspaper articles she wrote while the named editor was her boss. It is satisfying to be able to verify events from Cynthia’s  stories.

The first recording in the series also holds enough personal information that we were able to use census records and old yearbooks available online to connect some dots. We were quick to discover Cynthia was a high school cheerleader and a prolific poet. We also found a living relative. Cynthia’s great niece told us that the diagnosis was schizophrenia, something Boder never says in the recordings and associated papers housed at the Cummings Center. Her family shared with us a childhood photograph and some of Cynthia’s original poetry. We learned that she spent most of the rest of her life after the institutionalization mentioned in Boder’s 1953 letter in specialized hospitals and treatment facilities. Cynthia died in 1995 at around 70 years old.

Sixty five years after the original interviews were recorded on those wire spools, last summer Patrick Kennedy visited the Cummings Center while we were digitizing. He listened for several minutes off the original wire spools. These records remind us, Mr. Kennedy commented, that there are real people behind the patient records and doctors’ reports.

We were so glad to have found Cynthia.

 

CCHP_MediaLab_PKennedy2_wmrk

Jon Endres, Media & Technology Specialist, plays Boder’s wire-recording interview with Cynthia for Mr. Kennedy, Dr. David Baker, and me.

 

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Contributed by Jon Endres

In my job as the main media digitization person here at the Cummings Center, I have the opportunity to hear and see things that sometimes have not been seen or heard in decades or longer. This is one of my favorite aspects of the job – outside of being able to actively do a service for the study of history – and sometimes we find things that we did not know we had, or even existed.

My most recent project involved digitizing audio recordings from wire spools. On these spools,  Dr. David Pablo Boder recorded fascinating things, from interviews with people displaced by the 1951 Kansas City Flood to speeches and radio programs.

IMG_1120.JPGThe three boxes of spools in the AHAP collection

Boder’s most famous work was done in 1946 when he traveled across Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland and collected interviews with displaced persons–many of them Holocaust survivors–in the aftermath of World War II. Most of the recordings were uncovered in the late 1990s between the Library of Congress and the Illinois Institute of Technology, spurring much interest in Boder’s work.

Boder off trainFrom a 16mm film of Boder in Germany

There was one wire spool that was never found, being referenced in his work but not found in the various Boder collections. This spool was of Jewish songs from a displaced persons camp in Henonville, France.

As I went through the three boxes of spools that we have at the archives I began to take stock of what we knew we had on spools versus what we had no idea about. Among these “confused” wire spools was the one below.

henonville.JPG

 

The spool above had been erroneously entered into the finding aid as “Heroville Songs” when the collection was originally processed in the 1960s. It did not take me long to realize that the tin says “Henonville? Songs.” But this was no guarantee that this was the content on the spool. Even the tin itself seemed a bit unsure about its own content.

It took me a few days to get comfortable enough with the medium to put the Henonville Songs on to digitize – these are very fragile and I did not want to risk destroying history – but when I did I was blown away.

These are the missing songs Boder recorded from those survivors, recorded more than 60 years ago. The feeling of knowing what I had found and the understanding that I was  listening to something few before me had heard was a very different and personal thing for me. It felt like I was helping in some way to bring these voices to the present, voices that had become somewhat lost to the historical record.

The discovery of this single canister holding a lost recording means that  these songs can be heard again, they can be studied, and they can inform us in a new way about the experiences, the joys, and the frustrations of these displaced persons.

Below are several samples from the Henonville Songs spool. Please give them a listen, they’ve been waiting a long time.

Dr. Boder’s Introduction:Song Clip 1:Song Clip 2:Song Clip 3:

[Note: If you’re interested in hearing or using Boder’s work for research, please contact us at ahap@uakron.edu.]

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