Directed by archivist Andy Lanset, the department provides a central repository for thousands of audio recordings, photographs, memorabilia, reports, news items, program guides, institutional records, and promotional materials.
Among its holdings are more than 50,000 recordings in a variety of formats, from early lacquer and acetate discs, to reel-to-reel tapes, to digital audio tapes and compact discs.
This WNYC American Music Festival program from February 19, 1941 captures the Benny Goodman Sextet in a rare and wonderful moment.
Popular best-sellers of the day, Edna Ferber's books also provided the stories for influential plays, musicals, and films. At this 1958 Books and Authors Luncheon, she talks about her new book, Ice Palace.
"Is the Feminine Mystique a Mistake?" is the question posed at the beginning of this 1966 edition of Maincurrents, hosted by Lee Graham.
On December 11, 1991, Salman Rushdie "quietly ventured outside Britain and emerged"  to speak at a Columbia University dinner celebrating the 200th anniversary of the First Amendment. The thunderous applause that greets Mr Rushdie's unexpected appearance sets the tone for his speech.
At a Books and Authors Luncheon featuring such literary establishment figures as the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and the literary critic Alfred Kazin, a 36-year-old cartoonist gets up to speak.
These cerebral palsy radio spots, recorded in 1951 for the United Cerebral Palsy Fund, highlight the ideas and words applied to children born with disabilities.
James T. Farrell, the creator of Studs Lonigan, is often thought of as a crude, dogged, naturalist writer; it's refreshing to hear the author speaking, in this recording from 1952, of what truly obsesses him: literature.
"America is being forced to face itself," James Farmer proclaims in this 1963 Overseas Press Club appearance, before discussing the upcoming march on Washington and the historical roots of the civil rights struggle.
In 1949, Israel's Abba Eban defends his country against a variety of accusations and urges the United Nations to act favorably on Israel's application for admission to that international body.
WNYC's American Music Festival features Richard Dyer-Bennet in his all-too-brief heyday, before betrayal and political accusations would derail his career, in this 1945 studio appearance.
"Three Generations From the Court of Domestic Relations" is the title of this 1954 performance by the monologist Ruth Draper. The setting is the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf Astoria, where Draper, the afternoon's entertainment, takes the stage.
Between the summer of 1925 and spring 1932, Victor Harrison-Berlitz, the General Manager of 410 U.S. Berlitz language schools, taught French, Spanish, German and Italian over WNYC. The regular classes were a pioneering effort for American radio.
As New Sounds celebrates composer John Cage's 100th birthday, we at the WNYC archives add our own, irreverent archival item to the celebration: a WMCA News Parade program with an eerie premonition of John Cage's famous "silent" piece, 4'33".
"We are heading up to one of the greatest crises, I think, in modern history." This prediction about oil and the Middle East was made in 1951 by none other than Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas at a Books and Authors Luncheon.
Tommy Dorsey's 1945 teaming up with Leopold Stokowski drives the young audience into a frenzy even before the first note is played. Stokowski comes across as a bit schoolmasterish, admonishing the audience to be quiet or "the concert ends now."
The former prime minister and future president of Ireland, Eamon de Valera, is welcomed to New York by various dignitaries during this 1948 visit. Grover Whalen, the city's official greeter, introduces "the boy from Manhattan island" who now returns as a recognized world leader.
Carmine G. DeSapio rose through the ranks of Tammany Hall, the New York City Democratic machine, starting out as an errand boy and becoming "boss" in 1949. The upcoming presidential contest is very much on DeSapio's mind during this 1955 edition of Campus Press Conference.
In 1946, there was a 29% increase in the cases of venereal diseases in New York City. Interestingly, there was a correlative rise in flushed exclamations of catching VD from toilet seats, park benches, and bus seats.