Streams

In the New York City Municipal Archives WNYC Sound Collection, we hear the voices of presidents, dignitaries, world leaders, artistic revolutionaries, musical geniuses, luminaries of the literati, and cultural icons. The sounds of a city and a nation are captured through nearly a century of transformations, tribulations, and triumphs. WNYC microphones were present when Admiral Byrd returned from his historic flight over the North Pole in 1926 and when Colonel Charles Lindbergh returned from his solo flight to Paris the following year. Perhaps best known are New York City Mayor F. H. La Guardia's weekly Talk to the People broadcasts over WNYC throughout World War II.

This web resource has been made possible in part by the
National Endowment for the Humanities:
Exploring the Human Endeavor

Any views, findings, conclusions, recommendations expressed in this web resource do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Recently in Municipal Archives

The Activist Tom Mooney, on Death Row, Is Pardoned

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WNYC

This dramatic live broadcast from 1939 is a seminal moment in American jurisprudence and political history: the pardon of Tom Mooney, a tireless labor activist wrongly condemned to death in 1917 for a fatal bombing, after he served 22 years in prison.

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Amiri Baraka Reads "The Revolutionary Theater"

Monday, February 18, 2013

WNYC

Amiri Baraka died January 9th after weeks of failing health. He was 79. A playwright, poet, critic and activist, Baraka was one of the most prominent and controversial African American voices in the world of American letters.  Speaking at the Overseas Press Club ( and airing on WNYC) in 1965 following the release of his Obie award-winning play The Dutchman, Baraka presented himself as a no-nonsense artist who was not about to compromise his message for anyone. The talk catches Baraka (still known as Leroi Jones) at the height of his radical voice in the 1960s and is critical because it was delivered just four days before the assassination of Malcolm X.

 

The writer and activist LeRoi Jones (who would later be known as Amiri Baraka) speaks here on February 17, 1965, four days before the assassination of Malcolm X, an event that catapulted him from a charismatic Greenwich Village maverick into a radicalized black nationalist in Harlem.

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Art in Public: Stuart Davis on Abstract Art and the WPA, 1939

Friday, February 15, 2013

WNYC
Stuart Davis doesn't waste time with small talk or being nice to Republicans.
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Diplomatic Impunity: Dean Acheson Counsels Audiences on Disarmament

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WNYC
Acheson addresses a global situation which he feels has turned against America.
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A Chorus of Conversation: What Is American Music?

Monday, February 11, 2013

WNYC
Behind the banter in this 1950 roundtable, one detects a rich mix of fellowship and rivalry.
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Friendship Train Attempts to Humanize Postwar Effort

Friday, February 08, 2013

WNYC
America sends aid to the suffering.
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Edward Barrett Considers Anti-American Sentiment in Latin America

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

WNYC

The violent anti-American demonstrations occasioned by Vice President Richard M. Nixon's recent trip to Latin America are the subject of this 1958 International Interview with Edward W. Barrett, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

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Great Minds and Stellar Talents Consider the State of Modern Photography

Monday, February 04, 2013

WNYC

"What Is Modern Photography?" is the question posed at this symposium hosted by the Museum of Modern Art's Edward Steichen. An all-star panel of photographers, including Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Irving Penn, and Ben Shahn, give (or refuse to give) their individual, often contradictory, definitions of the controversial medium. The gathering provides a great snapshot of  the state of the art in 1950.

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Whitney Young Provides Depth and Texture to Portrait of Racial Inequality

Friday, February 01, 2013

WNYC
Whitney Young was one of the most powerful voices calling for achieving racial equality by working within the system.
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Writer Marguerite Young, Eccentric Documentarian of Utopias

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WNYC

"All that I have told in this story is true, down to the last butterfly or flower," claims Marguerite Young in this talk at a 1966 Books and Authors Luncheon. 

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Richard Wright's Love Letter to Paris

Monday, January 28, 2013

WNYC
Saying that once he arrived, "I've never felt a moment of sorrow," Wright extolls his adopted city of Paris, raving first about the landscape, the architecture, and vistas.
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Herman Wouk Bucks Literary Trends to Produce Best-Selling Novels

Friday, January 25, 2013

WNYC

Herman Wouk, appearing in this 1955  Books and Authors Luncheon, contests what he perceives as the common view of his being "a conformist." 

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Teddy Wilson Contemplates the Future of Jazz

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WNYC

Pianist Teddy Wilson discusses his career and speculates on the future of jazz in this 1950 interview.

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Walter White of NAACP Asserts America's 'Race Problem' Undermines Overseas Efforts

Monday, January 21, 2013

WNYC

Walter White, head of the NAACP, ponders race and foreign relations at the Great Hall of Cooper Union, in New York City, in this 1949 recording.

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Jessamyn West on an Author's Responsibility to Her Readers

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WNYC
"Dear Reader," Jessamyn West pointedly addresses her audience at this 1960 Book and Authors Luncheon. She then goes on to explore the relationship between an author and her reading public, noting how Victorian novelists felt no qualms in responding to the emotional needs and moral judgments of their audience, whereas today's writers barely acknowledge the reader. Indeed, it is only the Beatniks, "those brave bearded boys," who are willing to admit out loud how "dear" their readers are to them.

 

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Mr. New York: Grover Whalen's Unique Diplomacy

Monday, January 14, 2013

WNYC

In this 1956 appearance at the Books and Authors Luncheon, Grover A. Whalen takes us from his childhood on the Lower East Side to his role in assuring that the United Nations would build its headquarters in New York City. 

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Gran' Pop Has a Touch of the Flu, 1951

Friday, January 11, 2013

WNYC

What were the signs and symptoms of influenza in 1951? Join Dr. Naltoney to find out.

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Alec Waugh's Martinique, and a Brotherly Deed to the World

Friday, January 11, 2013

WNYC

In this amusing, time-capsule of a talk, given at a 1956 Books and Authors Luncheon to promote his best-selling novel Island In the Sun, Alec Waugh explains how he came to write about the West Indies.

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Before Bono: Danny Kaye, First UN Ambassador, on his 1954 East Asia trip

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

In 1954, entertainment superstar Danny Kaye became UNICEF's first Ambassador at Large, a post he held until his death in 1987. This is Mr Kaye's personal recounting of his first East Asian tour visiting many of the world's impoverished children.

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Virgil Thomson on What Makes a Good Music Critic

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

WNYC
The critic Virgil Thomson on his just published collection, The Art of Judging Music.
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