Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online

Historians in the News

If someone was an important figure in American culture in the 20th century, chances are he or she was interviewed by Studs Terkel.

Conversations with Rosa Parks, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr. and Louis Armstrong are among the nearly 6,000 hours of interviews conducted by Mr. Terkel, the colorful Chicago author and oral historian, for WFMT radio from 1952 to 1997.

Under a deal signed Monday between the Chicago History Museum and the Library of Congress, tapes of those interviews will be digitally preserved and given new life online.

Remembered by Chicagoans for his political activism and distinctive red checkered shirts, Mr. Terkel, who died in 2008 at 96, donated the tapes to the museum in 1997.

The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content.

Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years.

“This project will require significant staff time and expertise, specialized audio equipment and a computer infrastructure capable of safely storing, delivering and sustaining the digital content: resources that are typically beyond the reach of small archives and museums,” said Gene DeAnna, who is leading the effort for the library. “Some of these tapes are over 40 years old and are fragile.”...
Read entire article at NYT

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