The University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press’ Special Collections Department has just completed an 18-month grant-funded digitization project to make approximately 550 unique audio recordings from four political collections available to students and researchers at the University of Delaware and beyond.
Under direction of Principal Investigator John Caldwell, associate librarian and coordinator of political papers and electronic records, Special Collections digitized the William Satterfield collection of Delaware political radio commercials and interviews, which documents the political environment in Delaware between 1970 and 1986. The voices of candidates and public officials, ranging from local politicians to the President of the United States, are now available for the first time since these commercials and interviews originally aired, conveying policy stances and the state of political discourse in Delaware during the 1970s and early 1980s. Other notable recordings included in the project are speeches and interviews from United States Senators John J. Williams (R, 1947-1970) and J. Allen Frear, Jr. (D, 1949-1961), who represented Delaware during two historically significant decades in the mid-20th century.
All of the recordings are now available through the Library’s Artstor Commons platform. In addition to the full audio, most of the recordings are fully transcribed and audio recordings can be viewed with captions in Artstor Commons. The collections can be accessed here:
This project could not have been completed on time and on budget without the effort and labor of Theresa Hessey, senior assistant librarian and digital collections librarian. In addition, three current and former Library staff worked June-September 2021 to transcribe approximately 450 recordings, totaling over 25 hours of audio content: Kelsy Frank, technology support specialist I; Lauri Perkins, library assistant III; and Easten Cueva, technology support specialist I.
This project, Hearing Democracy in the First State: Preserving Delaware’s Political Legacy, 1949-1986, was funded as part of the seventh wave of the Recordings at Risk program, a national regranting program administered by the Council of Library and Information Resources and generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.