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.
As we enter the back stretch of the current mayoral campaign, there have been a lot of competing voices for the city's top spot. For contemporary oratory, what we've heard so far has been fairly standard: frequently finding fault, at times dogmatic, often punctuated with clichés, promising the moon, but always familiar in tone. The candidate, after all, needs to look and sound appealing to win those votes. Oddly enough, it wasn't always this way. Let's dial back the years to the earliest recording made of a New York mayoral candidate, incumbent Mayor John F. Hylan, in this abridged recreation of his Primary renomination acceptance speech from the fall of 1921. 
If it's good enough for Elvis, it's good enough for you and your child - On the birthday of the city's first female Health Commissioner, we honor Dr. Leona Baumgartner and the New York City publicity campaign for the polio vaccine.
As New York City's Broadcasting Supervisor, Raymond Asserson was charged with designing and building the first WNYC facility by then Commissioner for Plant and Structures, Grover A. Whalen. Generally behind the scenes in bringing WNYC to life, Asserson made his mark publicly before the House Merchant Marine Committee on March 12, 1924. Testifying on behalf of Whalen, the former Navy engineer charged that through its patents, AT&T had stymied New York City's efforts to set up a radio station and had effectively created a radio monopoly.
Frances Foley Gannon was described as “a brisk little woman with a smiling Irish face.” Her advice was two-fold: in her daily five minutes on air, she told mothers what foods were in season and how to use them to plan family meals.
Beginning as an office boy for The World, Tommy Cowan went on to be Thomas Edison’s receptionist, greeting important visitors to the inventor’s laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. From there he was the first announcer on the air in the New York metropolitan area when WJZ Newark started broadcasting in 1921. He announced the first World Series broadcast based on descriptions phoned into him from the game, as well as covering the June, 1924 Democratic National Convention from Madison Square Garden.
WNYC's Chief Concert Engineer Edward Haber recorded Richie Havens for WNYC and had this recollection.
The 1964 World's Fair opened 49 years ago this week. In this archive joint, master builder Robert Moses, former Governor Charles Poletti and a cornucopia of others preview attractions expected at the fair. Among the featured attractions: The Pietà and a pavilion dedicated to the United Arab Republic. "We feel it's very, very important for the American people to learn more about Arab countries," Moses says.
During World War II, rationing became not only accepted, but a symbol of patriotism for most Americans. Listen to Oscar Brand in this never-broadcast documentary on how the government —and WNYC— helped foster that sentiment.
It is April 19th, 1944. Thousands of mourners silently march from a service at the Warsaw synagogue on Rivington Street to City Hall. A few carry signs: "Save Those Jews in Poland Who Can Yet Be Saved!" and, "Three Million Polish Jews Have Been Murdered By the Nazis!" When they arrive at the steps of City Hall, Cantor Moishe Oysher sings El Mole Rachamim, a funeral prayer for the the 40,000 Jews who died a year earlier in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
The broadcast above comes from a rare shellac radio transcription disc dated March 26, 1933. The program, The News Parade, consists of several news stories, including the one above dramatizing the Nazi persecution of Jews. It's particularly notable since Adolph Hitler had only become German Chancellor on January 30th, less than two months earlier.
In March, 1972, reporter Eleanor Fischer interviewed Congresswoman Bella Abzug as she was fighting to hold on to her congressional district in Manhattan encompassing, in part, the Battery, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Chinatown, Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Representative Abzug talks about this effort to marginalize her. She also calls for pulling U.S. troops out of Vietnam, endorses Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm's campaign for the Presidency and (there may be some debate over it) lays claim to starting the honorific "Ms."
In 1957, two years before his death, Frank Lloyd Wright sat down with WNYC to discuss his design philosophy, exhibiting his trademark eloquence and blistering opinions. The year of this interview marks an explosion of commissions for Wright, who by then had been practicing architecture for 70 years.
The writer, critic, editor, filmmaker, television pioneer, and broadcaster Gilbert Seldes comments on censorship, a favorite topic, in this 1953 broadcast of The Lively Arts.
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.
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.
Marcus Garvey, the promoter of Pan-Africanism and black pride, had a vision of economic independence for his people. Those who followed him were called Garveyites. He was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, (UNIA) the single largest black organization ever. In the 1920s and 30s, the UNIA had an estimated six million followers around the world.