Archibald MacLeish— J. B. in Yellow Springs

archibald_macleishby: Dave Barber

Poet, dramatist, academic, essayist, public servant—Archibald MacLeish wore all of those hats over a sixty year time frame. After an Antioch Area Theatre performance of his play J.B. in July of 1966, Archibald MacLeish took center stage in Antioch’s open air amphitheater to discuss his work with the audience. In coverage captured in the Antioch Record, MacLeish commended the production. Inspired by the Book of Job, the three act Broadway edition of J.B. won a Best Drama Pulitzer and Tony Awards for Best Play and Direction (by Elia Kazan) in 1959. The Yellow Springs production was directed by Antioch College Professor of Drama Meredith Dallas.

In an interview the next day with the Record, MacLeish said,

“I was happier about the end of the play in the production last night than I had ever been before. It is in its conclusion, that J.B. differs most markedly from the biblical story of Job on which it is based. Like the Book of Job the play depicts man’s attempt to justify to himself what seems to be the gratuitious and indiscriminate cruelty of events. In both, Job seeks reasons for his suffering, but is silenced by the greatness, majesty, and power of God.”

In the play, MacLeish explained, “Job cannot accept his blindness and goes on to a revulsion from the great scene of the Book of Job, and out of that comes the realization of where he is..face to face with his death, and alone in his situation. One must get rid of the idea of a supernatural power that is going to solve all of your problems. Only in that situation are you able to find the resources within yourself to face that.”

MacLeish told the Record the play was inspired by the Nazi bombing of London during World War Two and “how you justify indiscriminate, fortuitous, chance destruction” like that of London and Hiroshima. He concluded the interview by discussing the play’s applicability to the war in Vietnam which he described to the Record as “almost a ritualistic war that takes very little account of the human beings involved. The thing that horrifies people about Vietnam is the impersonality of the thing.” He added that Washington is coming to realize that “this isn’t a war that can be won in military terms.”

After being picked to be Librarian of Congress by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, MacLeish spent a decade between 1939 and 1948 as a Washington insider—a period of his career that culminated in shaping the U.S. role in Unesco. An arm of the United Nations, at its core is the belief “ that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.” By 1966 he had been out of government for seventeen years (he taught poetry at Harvard University between 1949 and 1962). If Archibald MacLeish believed Washington was coming around soon on Vietnam in 1966 he was mistaken. The U.S. would remain mired in Southeast Asia for another decade.

WYSO Symposium Registration Open

wordle 2The Past Made Present: The 2016 WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium

In recognition of the WYSO Archives and to celebrate American Archives Month, historians, archivists, scholars, students and all interested community members are invited to attend the first WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium on October 20-22, 2016.

While symposium sessions will explore various aspects of digital humanities, focus will be on remembering and reflecting on the Vietnam War, the protests against it, and other movements that emerged during this era of challenge and change.

Sponsored by partnerships between Antioch College, Central State University, Wittenberg University, Wright State University, and WYSO-FM, and hosted at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the symposium includes a photo exhibit, speakers, a showcase of digital humanities projects, scholarly and experimental presentations, and workshops on digital humanities pedagogical tools. All events will take place on the Antioch College campus.

Schedule & Program

On Thursday, October 20 (7-9 pm), the symposium will open with an exhibit and gallery talk by keynote speakers Willa Seidenberg and William Short. Friday, October 21 (8:30am-5:00 pm), will include an all day symposium of sessions related to digital humanities topics, the keynote address on telling Vietnam era stories through oral history and photographs, and a showcase of local projects that inform the digital humanities, including Rediscovered Radio and Veterans Voices, both produced at WYSO. On Saturday, October 22 (8:30-Noon), the morning will feature two workshops designed to encourage educators at all levels to incorporate digital humanities tools into their teaching. A detailed schedule will be made available prior to the symposium.

Keynote Speakers

Willa Seidenberg is a professor of professional practice at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and William Short is an artist, educator and photographer based in Los Angeles. Both are alumni of Antioch College. They will present their work collecting and telling stories of the Vietnam War and its legacies. Together they have produced the oral history/photo project: A Matter of Conscience: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War (published in 1992), and Memories of the American War: Stories From Viet Nam, in which they gathered the stories of Vietnamese people and their experiences during the war with the Americans.

Workshops and Presenters

Digital Humanities Makerspaces: Making Media, Making Connection

The New Media Incubator is a leading-edge digital makerspace in Wright State University’s College of Liberal Arts that opened in the spring of 2016. The NMI is an experimental facility that exists at the intersection of technology and the disciplines of the humanities. This session will feature a virtual tour of the NMI, inventive student projects created there, and an open discussion about new trends, issues, and other emerging topics of interest to educators and creators of digital humanities artifacts.

Will Davis is an instructor of media arts, a radio producer and editor, and a multimedia artist, and director of the New Media Incubator at Wright State University.

One Interview, Five Tools: Exploring Opensource Technology Stacks for Visualizing, Publishing & Navigating Spoken Narrative

For oral historians, journalists, ethnographers, and students who interview people, digital tools can open new horizons for navigating, visualizing, organizing, and publishing narrative stories. While these tools are built for different purposes, they all share one thing: the ability to sync a media file with a text file in a visual interface, often with images and maps. This workshop features one interview, produced for public viewing in 5 different tools— demonstrating a spectrum of journalistic and scholarly publishing from a ‘cooked’ 6-minute documentary video to an archival ‘raw’ full-length oral history with controlled thesaurus and interactive transcripts. Emphasizing undergraduate pedagogy, participants will explore workflows to integrate machine-generated transcripts with a variety of digital storytelling tools, while discussing editorial authority and considering how the digital age complicates informed consent.

Brooke Bryan is Instructor of Cooperative Education at Antioch College where she specializes in the empirical humanities, developing partnerships and field-based research opportunities for and with Antioch students.

Registration
Thursday’s event is free and open to the public.

Early bird registration fees for Friday. Early bird registration closes on Monday, October 3. $35/general, $10/students

Regular registration fees for Friday. Pre-conference registration will close on Friday, October 15. $45/general, $15/students

Onsite registration is available, but lunch is not guaranteed for onsite registrants. $50/general, $20 students

Workshop registration for Saturday is limited and pre-registration is required. $25/general, $10/students

Register online at https://donate.nprstations.org/wyso/past-made-present-2016-wyso-archives-digital-humanities-symposium

A pdf version of the registration form is available for those who do not wish to register online. Download the form here. Complete and email to archives@wyso.org by the deadlines indicated.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Cancellations for a full refund must be made before Monday, October 3 at 5 p.m. For cancellations made prior to this date, your registration fee will be refunded via the method of payment (e.g. credit card to credit card transaction, etc.), minus minimum processing costs if applicable. Please submit cancellation requests to archives@wyso.org. Cancellation requests must include the registrant’s name, email address, method of payment, and the total amount paid. Please allow 4-6 weeks for your refund to be processed. No refunds can be given for cancellations made after Saturday, October 15, at 5 p.m.

Directions

http://www.antiochcollege.org/about/directions-map

Parking

Free; off Livermore Street behind the Olive Kettering Library

Meals

Continental breakfast and light lunch served on Friday/Saturday

Accommodations

Accommodations in Yellow Springs are eclectic and limited, and there is no conference hotel, as such. However, ample space is generally available within a short drive of the village. Lists of area accommodations can be accessed by linking below:
http://www.stayyellowsprings.com/
http://www.yellowspringsohio.org/

I.F. Stone, Daniel Ellsberg and the Antioch Vietnam Colloquium

by Dave Barber

Daniel Ellsberg and I.F. Stone both lectured at the Antioch College Vietnam Colloquium on April 24, 1965. Exactly a week earlier they were in the same place. According to his autobiography Secrets, on April 17 Ellsberg was on a first date with the woman he would eventually marry, Patricia Marx. It was a peculiar choice for a first date for Ellsberg — at the time he was assistant to John McNaughton, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s closest advisor — an anti-Vietnam war protest on the Washington mall, one of the first of the era, sponsored by the Students For A Democratic Society (SDS) with over 20,000 in attendance.

In Secrets he writes “She said she was going to a demonstration the next day at the Washington Monument and a march around the White House to protest the war. I pointed out that I couldn’t very well take part in that, since I was helping run the war being protested.”

Antioch College student assembly in the 1960s (courtesy of Antiochiana)

Antioch College student assembly in the 1960s (courtesy of Antiochiana)

He went anyway. And at the start of his Antioch lecture he mentions hearing Stone speak at the demonstration. And that he will be talking about some of the issues he heard addressed at the SDS rally the previous weekend. The Antioch event came a month after the publication of Stone’s incendiary reaction to a State Department white paper documenting North Vietnamese atrocities in the South. It was published in his influential newsletter, I.F. Stone’s Weekly.

In an interview with Amy Goodman on the program Democracy Now, D.D. Guttenplan, author of American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone, discussed the impact of Stone’s analysis:

“He always said you should read a government document from the back, because that’s where they put the stuff they don’t want you to notice. So at the back of the State Department white paper was a report on weapons captured by the US forces in Vietnam. And Stone showed — it was a detailed list — that 95 percent of these weapons were made in the West, that they were either American or British, and that they had obviously been captured by the Vietnamese army that we were arming, so that far from being a Moscow-equipped and backed force, the Viet Cong were an indigenous native opposition to the South Vietnamese government and their weapons came from the army that they were defeating. This exposed the government’s big lie about Vietnam and it gave legitimacy and credibility to the opposition, because it came out of the time when the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were trying to decide what was the big issue to organize around in the United States. “

In addition to describing the terror created by insurgent North Vietnamese fighters in rural South Vietnam, Ellsberg devotes part of his Antioch lecture referencing the figures Stone pulled from the State Department document. According to the Antioch Record (the student newspaper) Ellsberg was in attendance for Stone’s lecture that evening which was preceded by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s and, like Stone’s, delivered via tele-lecture. Ellsberg also attended discussion groups that day and the next.

I.F. Stone in April, 1972 (photo by Kzitelman via Wikimedia Commons)

I.F. Stone in April, 1972 (photo by Kzitelman via Wikimedia Commons)

Stone had been attacking U.S. policy in Southeast Asia since the 1950s. He publicly disputed President Johnson’s account of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, which sparked the escalation of the war in August 1964 (As would Ellsberg after the Pentagon Papers were released). Stone would continue to irritate the Johnson administration as statements made at protests and teach-ins would begin to mirror actual events.

In his Antioch address Stone stated.

“In 1961 we were told that the war can be handled by counterinsurgency. Two years later, when the guerrillas were more powerful than ever, the White House assured us in October 63 that the war was going so well that 1,000 men would be withdrawn by the end of the year and the war would be under control by 1965. Well now its 1965 and the guerrillas control most of the country. It has reached a very ticklish point. Because if we bomb Hanoi, Haiphong, and the dykes that support the irrigation system of the Red River Valley on which the bread of these people depends, they will have nothing more to lose. At that point the quarter million man North Vietnamese army, one of the best in Asia, will move south and take over the entire country. And at that point we will be faced with a vastly expanded war. “

The legacies of Daniel Ellsberg and I.F. Stone have cast a long shadow. Stone’s 50-year career has been a beacon for left-leaning, independent-minded journalists the world over. Ellsberg went from Harvard-educated cold warrior/analyst and Marine to an icon of the anti-war movement with his role in the leak of the Pentagon Papers. Since the early 1970s he has been a tenacious anti-nuclear activist and an inspiration to succeeding generations of whistleblowers including Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

For more about I.F. Stone:
official website: http://www.ifstone.org/
Paul Berman’s 2006 New York Times review of the I.F. Stone biography All Government’s Lie: The Life and Times of Journalist I.F. Stone by Myra McPherson
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/books/review/Berman.t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

For more about Daniel Ellsberg
official website: http://www.ellsberg.net/
NPR story on Daniel Ellsberg from Weekend Edition which aired in 2013
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/08/03/208602113/pentagon-papers-leaker-daniel-ellsberg-praises-snowden-manning

The Past Made Present: The 2016 WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium

IMG_9833We are excited to announce the Call for Proposals for the first WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium! Save the date, and plan to join us in October to explore the many ways our past is made present through the wonders of technology, creatively applied to research, teaching, and learning. We’ll share more details on the program in coming blog posts. (Photo: Steve Bognar)

 

The Past Made Present: The 2016 WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium

The first WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium will convene on October 20-22, 2016, in honor of American Archives Month.

Sponsored by public radio station WYSO-FM in partnership with Antioch College, Central State University, Wittenberg University, and Wright State University, and hosted at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the symposium will feature speakers, exhibits, a showcase of digital humanities projects, related presentations, and faculty workshops on Digital Humanities and Pedagogy.

 

Call for proposals:

WYSO-FM and its academic partners invite submission of abstracts for the WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium. This symposium seeks to examine the interdisciplinary nature of digital humanities scholarship as we look back on the Vietnam War period. Panels, roundtables, multi-media presentations, and posters are welcome from all areas of scholarship and from museums, libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions. Scholars at all levels and affiliations are invited to submit proposals. Sessions may be on any topic related to the use of digital humanities, but in recognition of the significant anniversaries associated with the Vietnam era as reflected in the WYSO Archives, proposals utilizing primary sources related to the 1960s and 1970s are strongly encouraged. While the focus is primarily on audio projects, all media are welcome.

Each presentation will be limited to fifteen (15) minutes with Q&A to follow.

Proposal Deadline – May 31, 2016

Topics may include:

  • Reflecting on Sixties Activism through Oral History
  • Vietnam Veterans Remember the War
  • Using Digital Humanities to Teach Recent History
  • Digital Archives and High School Student Research
  • Radio Preservation and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Presentation types

Sessions will be divided into the following categories:

  • Paper/Multimedia Presentation
  • Pecha Kucha (15-20 slides shown for 20 seconds each; 5 – 6:40 minutes)
  • Poster Presentations

We encourage both scholars and students at the secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels to submit abstracts for presentations.

Submission process 

Submissions are due by May 31, 2016. Email abstracts as an attachment to Archives@wyso.org with the following information:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Institutional affiliations, if applicable
  • Session type
  • Session abstract of 250 words
  • Audiovisual needs
  • Biographical information on presenter of 250 words

Notification of acceptance or decline will be made via e-mail. Scholars with accepted proposals are expected to register for the symposium.

For additional information, contact symposium co-chair Jocelyn Robinson at jocelyn.robinson@wright.edu or 937-241-4618.

The Fels Connection: Earle Reynolds and Horace Champney

by Dave Barber

image courtesy of Antiochiana, Antioch College.

image courtesy of Antiochiana, Antioch College.

Central to the story of the 1967 voyage of the Phoenix, is its designer, owner and skipper Earle Reynolds. Between 1943 and 1951 Reynolds was Associate Professor of Anthropology at Antioch College and Chairman of the Physical Growth Department at the Fels Research Institute for the Study of Human Development (the site of WYSO from 1992 until 2012). He also wrote plays which were performed in Yellow Springs.

Reynolds was hired by the Atomic Energy Commission to take part in research on the effects atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 had on the growth and development of children. The work changed his life. He built the Phoenix and sailed with his family around the world speaking out about the dangers of atomic weapons and testing. After Quakers were arrested for sailing a boat into the nuclear test zone near Bikini Island in the Pacific Ocean, Reynolds and his family decided to take up their mission. He was arrested and prosecuted—the conviction was later overturned—for sailing into the restricted zone. Reynolds claimed later that the notoriety created by his dedication to peace and anti­nuclear causes led to loss of standing in the academic community and the end of his teaching position at Antioch.

Reynolds and Yellow Springs pacifist Horace Champney both worked for Fels Research years prior to the voyage of the Phoenix. According to biographical material which is part of the Horace Champney papers at Swarthmore College, he joined the Fels Research Institute staff in 1936 as a psychologist and worked there for several years specializing in the field of child development. In a 1982 interview with Sherry Novick at WYSO (which also included Quaker pacifist and Wilmington College professor Larry Gara) , Champney told of working with Quaker students who were grappling with the issue of conscientious objection to the draft at Antioch during the war. Champney had declared himself a conscientious objector before the end of the war and he was dismissed at Fels.

“The Fels job was pretty sensitive because it involved visiting families all over the county to observe how they raised their children.” Champney told Novick. “To have someone who was looked upon publicly as a traitor representing the Institute could hurt them. I think there was reason on those grounds.”

Quaker crew member Betty Boardman published a book about the voyage in 1985 under the title The Phoenix Trip: Notes On a Quaker Mission to Haiphong. It concludes with an appendix written by Champney, a diary of the first leg of the voyage, which originated in Hiroshima and sailed to Hong Kong before continuing to Hanoi with a ton of medical supplies. In addition to the voyage itself, Boardman’s book tells how Reynolds, Champney and other Quaker crew members came together as part of the Phoenix Project in 1966.

The Fels Research Institute became part of Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine in 1977. More information is here….. https://medicine.wright.edu/lifespan-health-research-center/fels-longitudinal-study/history

More information on Horace Champney is part of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection: https://www.swarthmore.edu/library/peace/DG151­175/dg166HChampney.html

Rediscovered Radio: The Accidental Archives at WYSO-FM

Throughout 2016, WYSO is mining its archives to find hidden gems from the 1960s and 1970s. We’ll listen in on protests against the Vietnam War, the shift from civil rights to Black nationalism, and women’s liberation. With support from Ohio Humanities, the project is exploring this tumultuous time in American history through our Rediscovered Radio series…and this blog.

As we delve into the historical audio, we’ll unearth deeper meanings and new perspectives on this era. We’ll present additional media and commentary on the events, the people, and the changing times. Look for posts from the Rediscovered Radio team and others with insights and analysis to complement the on-air stories.

For our first blog post, Archive Fellow Jocelyn Robinson brings us a short history of the archives and the impact it’s had on WYSO, radio preservation initiatives, and the digital humanities landscape.

Less than ten years ago, back in 2008, WYSO-FM, did not have an archives. As a public radio station in Yellow Springs, OH that was one of the smallest National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates, I believe I can safely say that nobody was thinking about or planning an archives at the time. An archives simply wasn’t on anyone’s radar. The station was busy celebrating its 50th anniversary—and doing what small radio stations do, trying to stay on the air, repairing its tower from lightning strikes, growing its membership base through on-air fund drives, producing a few local news and music programs to fill the gaps between NPR shows such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and hiring a general manager with a national reputation. Until, that is, a somewhat accidental discovery and a series of serendipitous events initiated the establishment and development of the WYSO Archives.

In 1991, when the WYSO studio relocated from the second floor of the Antioch College Student Union, where it had been since the early 1960s to another building across campus, WYSO’s tape library, representing programming dating back to the station’s founding in 1958, was tossed into boxes and plastic garbage bags, shuffled off to a musty, moldy storage room, and promptly forgotten about. Over two decades later, the station’s new general manager stumbled on those boxes and bags of forgotten media. Neenah Ellis knew she’d found something precious; those tapes were an important chronicle, not just of the radio station itself, but of Antioch College, of the local community, and of the entire country.

Much of the material had been produced in the decades after WYSO had evolved from a weak signaled campus service to the greater Miami Valley’s primary source for National Public Radio, with nationally known shows such as Car Talk and Fresh Air, as well as bluegrass, jazz, and other locally produced programs. Over 3,000 reel-to-reel tapes, DAT recordings, floppy disks, and other media were moldering in that storeroom and in dire need of rescue, in the short term, as well as long-term organization, preservation, and access. WYSO, like many public broadcasters, had made the switch to digital formats a few years before, and the rediscovered material was in both analog and early digital formats that represented this monumental shift. Playback was still possible, but the clock was ticking, both in terms of the stability of the media and availability of the hardware and software needed to access some of it.

Right about the time the tapes were found in 2009, a project emerged in the public broadcasting world that would change the game for WYSO-FM and a handful of other public media outlets, and ultimately, for all of public media. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) announced the creation of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB).

A Congressionally-approved study commissioned by CPB made clear the need for such a repository. According to the resulting report, in the years since public broadcasting first hit the airwaves, the American public—taxpayers like you and me—had “invested over $10 billion in content that was no longer available to them”[1] because of the shift in formats and due to the cost of developing and maintaining access to that content. A large broadcast service like WGBH in Boston or WBEZ in Chicago might have some resources to devote to such efforts, but certainly, small stations like WYSO-FM would never have that capacity. The report further encouraged CPB to develop a working prototype for the Archive, so in February of 2009, CPB partnered with Oregon Public Broadcasting, and the American Archive Pilot Project was launched.

The American Archive Pilot Project brought twenty-four public television and radio stations from across the country together to identify, restore, digitize, and make accessible roughly 2,500 hours of material related to civil rights and veterans of World War II. The stations had indicated that much of the material that had been produced in the early years of public broadcasting had been lost or was in some semblance of decay, so a sense of urgency informed the project’s mission. Information gathered through the Pilot Project helped CPB frame the Archive’s core activities, including “ inventorying, metadata gathering, restoration, analog-to-digital workflow, rights and permissions, and online access.” [2]

It was through this component of the AAPB project that WYSO-FM was able to launch its own archives project, the WYSO Archives. As one of the twenty-four stations to receive funding from CPB at the start of the project, WYSO-FM was able to bring in a professional archivist to begin the arduous task of rescuing the rediscovered radio in the moldy bags and boxes. Deanna Ulvestad, head archivist at the Greene County Public Library, was engaged to stabilize the collection and assist in identifying and nominating material to be digitized as part of the project.

The first order of business was to organize the material to see what exactly was in those bags and boxes. It so happened that the reel-to-reels had been literally pulled off the shelves at the old studio, still in their labeled tape boxes. The filing system on the labels worked years ago, and it would work now; Deanna set up tables on which to sort the tapes according to the types of programs and dates that were listed on the box labels; those labeled with M were music programs, and PA stood for public affairs. The reel-to-reels covered the time period from the late 1950s through the early 1980s, so the material was further sorted by decade. As it was, Deanna was able to select roughly 200 hours of reel-to-reel recordings to be digitized, most of it originally recorded in the 1960s and 1970s. Descriptions were researched and written, metadata created, an internal searchable database was prepared in CONTENTdm, and then the files were ingested to the AAPB system, PBCore. The DATs and other media were identified under different filing systems, and those materials were organized and set aside, as they fell outside the content stipulations for the grant. These media would provide the basis for another project, another day.[3]

Once the tapes were sorted and organized, what to do with them? They couldn’t go back into those bags and boxes, or the musty storeroom. Suitable accommodations for the collection had to be identified. As would happen more than once in the course of the project, the Greene County Public Library stepped in; Deanna was aware of surplus shelving, and arrangements were made for a donation. A room was set up that at the very least was secure and dry, and the tapes and other media were safely arranged in a dedicated archival space.

The material submitted to AAPB was rich. Antioch College and Yellow Springs were active locations in the civil rights era. In particular, one event galvanized the local community, the Gegner barbershop incident. Many, many local citizens and college students from Antioch College, Central State University, and Wilberforce University, were involved in protests that erupted in this 1964 demonstration that made the national evening news. Student reporters covered the events leading up to the demonstration that saw law enforcement use hoses and tear gas to break up the crowd. The streets of Yellow Springs looked more like the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, and WYSO was there.

In 2010, an additional opportunity arose in relation to the historical tapes. The American Archive Content Inventory Project (AACIP) gave WYSO-FM another infusion of grant funds to survey not just the analog holdings, but born digital files going back to the station’s conversion in the early 2000s. Based on the number of records submitted to the project, the station was able to digitize an additional seventy-seven hours of reel-to-reel recordings, bringing WYSO’s total to nearly 300 hours of digitized material. In all, the national project amassed more than 2.5 million records, and an additional 35,000 hours of analog content were digitized.[4]

As the AAPB project continued unfolding, a complementary project was initiated at WYSO-FM. The WYSO Archives would include an oral history component to further enrich the content of the collection. Brooke Bryan, an oral historian, folklorist, and then graduate student at Antioch University, was charged with working with the Yellow Springs community to structure gathering the stories of local elders who had been active in the civil rights movement. The stories of those days would make excellent additions to the developing collection. They are still being collected, again with some sense of urgency, as the elders who hold these important memories are passing away.

In order to gather and preserve the oral histories, a training program was launched. Interested volunteers would learn how to handle digital audio recording equipment and obtain the requisite interviewing techniques, and would also learn how to produce short radio documentaries. Community Voices trained its first cadre of producers in 2011, and then the program took off like a rocket. To date, over 50 people have been trained in the annual course, and the WYSO airwaves are alive with yet more locally produced programming.

While all of this was taking place, WYSO-FM itself underwent some major changes that had further impacts on the development of the WYSO Audio Archives. In May of 2012, WYSO moved into newly renovated studios, once again necessitating the physical move of the archival collection to yet another building. This time, the tapes and other media would be moved in an orderly manner, and would share space with the station’s music library in a secure, temperature and humidity-controlled, UV-protected room with ample shelf space for the collection and maximum accessibility to the materials.

The second change involved a situation that had an effect on the legal and intellectual control of the collection; the FCC license of the station, and thus, its ownership, changed hands. The fraught and convoluted relationship between Antioch College and Antioch University had come to a head in 2008 when the Board of Trustees of Antioch University formally closed the Antioch College campus. At the time, the station’s license remained an asset of the University. All grant funds, and the legal documentation for the oral history program, were managed through the University. In a brave move, alumni of Antioch College bought the campus from the University, and reopened an independent Antioch College in 2011. After several years of wrangling the renewed Antioch College struck a deal with the University, and the WYSO-FM license was transferred back into Antioch College’s hands in July of 2013. The transfer thus necessitated addressing the legal title to both the collection and the oral history materials several times over a period of just a few years.

With legal ownership of the radio station and the physical condition of its collection finally stabilized, it was time to address access to the WYSO Archives.

In 2013, the radio station made a commitment to provide outreach and public programs utilizing the archival collection. Through completing the Community Voices course earlier that year, I had become intrigued by the digitized material. I produced my culminating feature piece for the course, a look at the civil rights era in Yellow Springs in the early 1960s, using some of the digitized historic tape. I had never done any radio production before, but the process of combining my interests in race and identity with the historical material and the medium of radio was thrilling, and I was hooked. With the support of a grant from Ohio Humanities, WYSO-FM appointed me its first Archives Fellow, and Rediscovered Radio was born. For the next sixteen months, from late 2013 through early 2015, I had the privilege to get to know the historic audio intimately. I listened to most of the 277 hours, assisted others in accessing files for various projects, and created a series of short radio documentaries and specials utilizing it.[5] By bringing the events represented in the historical audio into context through excerpts woven with contemporary interviews and my narration, listeners of WYSO were able to reflect on the past and contemplate the present. The series earned awards from public radio organizations at the state and national levels.

At this point, I was one of the few people with immediate and direct access to the collection. As part of its mission to serve its community, the Greene County Public Library (GCPL) stepped up yet again. With an agreement brokered between Neenah Ellis at WYSO-FM and Karl Colón, GCPL director, the collection was made available on both institutions’ websites in June of 2015. This would not have been possible without the dedicated work of Deanna Ulvestad, who put in many hours above and beyond those funded by the two grants to enter the collection into CONTENTdm so it would be accessible on the library’s server. Deanna also serves on AAPB’s PBCore development group, helping to refine the metadata schema facilitating interoperability for all public broadcasters’ platforms. The grand opening of the WYSO Archives’ public access was celebrated at the new Antioch College’s first commencement in June of 2015, with a multimedia event attended by producers, staff and volunteers from WYSO’s founding through the present.

While the WYSO Archives has achieved tremendous success in the short time it has been in existence, the truth is that, in some fundamental ways, the cart has been put before the horse. The serendipitous events that have fomented its development and use have not included the creation of mission-based policies and procedures. In fact, at the present time there is no stated mission to guide the future development of the collection.

Back in the fall, I met with Toni Vanden Bos and Lisa Rickey of the Wright State University Special Collections and Archives to learn more about best practices for digital archives. They pointed me to materials, mostly available online, to help guide the management of the WYSO collection. They also shared their struggles and experiences with preserving audiovisual and born digital materials. [6] One of the great “aha moments” for me was the realization that digital media is in some ways so fragile,[7] that paper materials that are centuries old can be easier to conserve and preserve than Information Age records created just a few years ago. This realization gave an added urgency to the development of the WYSO Archives, especially in terms of preservation. New born digital material is being created every day, and we need to make provisions for its future.

The WYSO Archives also contains a number of documents, program guides, posters, news clippings, photographs, t-shirts, and other materials that are auxiliary to the audio collection. These materials are invaluable when determining when a particular program may have aired, or who produced it, or who was on the station’s staff at a particular time. While some of these materials have been organized by a volunteer archivist into acid-free folders and boxes and are shelved in the climate-controlled room along with the other media, no finding aids exist yet to assist researchers.

Another grant opportunity for WYSO-FM has proved fruitful: the AAPB project has funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR), a project to develop curriculum and expertise in the preservation of audio visual materials. According to the AAPB website, “The AAPB NDSR project will place seven residents at diverse geographic public television and radio organizations across the country and thus expand the locally based NDSR model to a national level. The project will also provide important information and lay the groundwork for a virtual national NDSR fellowship program.”[8] WYSO’s request has been funded, so developing some of the administrative infrastructure, those needed policies and procedures, will be included in the resident’s work, as will conducting additional collection inventories of born digital media, metadata development for the AACIP digitization project, and transfer or reformatting of DATs and other outdated media. This grant funding will permit WYSO-FM to finally, after eight years, achieve some semblance of a genuine archival program.

Funding for bringing the collection alive via a second season of Rediscovered Radio, was granted by Ohio Humanities. Throughout 2016, I will lead a team of Community Voices producers as we delve into the Vietnam War era holdings of the collection, with Jonathan Winkler of Wright State University and Molly Wood of Wittenberg University serving as the humanities scholars attached to the project.

Also in 2016, WYSO-FM will collect more oral histories from village elders, Community Voices will train its sixth group of local producers, a scholarly symposium on digital humanities is planned for October (American Archives Month), the strategic planning process for the archives will finally begin, and development of WYSO-FM’s accidental archives will continue.

And what of the larger American Archive of Public Broadcasting project? The initial excitement and enthusiasm for the national project was certainly dashed when Congress dropped funding for the CPB’s digital initiative from $36 million to just $6 million in FY 2011, then eliminated it completely in FY 2012. Without funds to continue the project, CPB and a national advisory panel sought to find another institution that could take on further development of the archive, and to continue to preserve the historic audio, video, and films produced by public broadcasters, and find a permanent home, one with an organization “accustomed to preserving cultural archives, capable of digitizing and sharing media assets, dedicated to supporting the mission and organizations of public media, and able to raise substantial funds to sustain these efforts over many decades.[9]

In 2013, CPB chose WGBH and the Library of Congress to jointly continue the work of the AAPB. As of this writing, all 40,000 hours of material digitized thus far are available for on-site viewing and/or listening in either Boston or Washington, DC. An online “reading room” went live in October of 2015, with those materials available “for which permissions [have] been obtained or which may prudently be presented for research, educational and informational purposes under fair use and other legal doctrines.” Together, the two entities hope to seek funding for outreach and further development of the collections, and to collaborate with other public media outlets to “keep, organize, and provide access to the cultural treasures created by the public media system” and reserve the public broadcasting legacy for future generations.”[10]

 

[1] Alan Gevinson, “A Brief History of the AAPB,” American Archive of Public Broadcasting, accessed November 30, 2015, http://americanarchive.org/about-the-american-archive/history.

[2] Gevinson, “A Brief History of the AAPB.”

[3] Deanna Ulvestad, (Head Archivist, Greene County Public Library) in discussion with the author, September 28, 2015.

[4] Gevinson, “A Brief History of the AAPB.”

[5] “Rediscovered Radio,” WYSO, accessed November 30, 2015, http://wyso.org/topic/rediscovered-radio#stream/0.

[6] Toni Vanden Bos (Archivist and Cataloguing and Preservation Manager) and Lisa Rickey (Archivist for Digital Initiatives and Outreach), in discussion with the author, October 7, 2015.

[7] Sam Brylawski, Maya Lermin, Robin Pike, and Kathlin Smith, editors, ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation, Association for Recorded Sound Collections, Council on Library and Information Services, National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, 2015, 3.

[8] “American Archive of Public Broadcasting National Digital Stewardship Residency Program,” American Archive of Public Broadcasting, accessed November 30, 2015, http://americanarchive.org/about-the-american-archive/projects/ndsr.

[9] Gevinson, “A Brief History of the AAPB.”

[10] Ibid.

Bibliography

“American Archive of Public Broadcasting National Digital Stewardship Residency Program,” American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://americanarchive.org/about-the-american-archive/projects/ndsr.

Brylawski, Sam, and Maya Lermin, Robin Pike, Kathlin Smith, Editors. ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation. Association for Recorded Sound Collections, Council on Library and Information Services, National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. 2015.

“Caring for Digital Materials: Preventing A Digital Dark Age.” Connecting to Collections Care. Accessed September 25, 2015. http://www.connectingtocollections.org/archivedigital/.

Garvey Schubert Barer. “Digitization, Preservation and Distribution.” Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project White Paper. 2012.

Gevinson, Alan. “A Brief History of the AAPB.” American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://americanarchive.org/about-the-american-archive/history.

“Rediscovered Radio.” WYSO. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://wyso.org/topic/rediscovered-radio#stream/0.