Before the video camera and film, there were far fewer ways to record what was going on in the world. The magic of recorded voices became a historical moment in the world when a phonautograph captured a voice singing “Au Clair de Lune.” This recording dates back to 1860 and is noted as the world’s oldest recorded voice. This wonderful moment was forever captured so that future generations could hear the sounds of a time gone by. The evolution of recording history technology has advanced from simple discs and cylinders to complete digital transactions.
Spoken word has become a bit of a cultish, underground phenomenon over the last couple of decades. Often, the term ‘spoken word’ relates to small, underground poetry slams or readings in coffee shops or smoky clubs late at night. But the real beauty of the human voice and the spoken word is that it provides a forum where people can express their hopes, dreams, and ideas, all through speech. In fact, talk radio has quickly become one of the most popular formats of radio available today. Because of our ability to record the spoken word, and the advances we’ve made throughout history, we are now enriched with a form of media that is universally recognized and used throughout the world.
Here are some helpful resources involving spoken word and voice related topics:
- The National Center for Voice and Speech – Organization dedicated to the human voice and speech
- Naxos Spoken Word Library – Resource for finding thousands of books and other spoken word resources on CD and tape
- National Gallery of the Spoken Word – Research project funded by the National Science Foundation
- Historical Voices – Dedicated to preserving historical speeches and recordings
- Streaming Spoken Word – At the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
- Spoken word Catalog – Searchable index of sounds and words recorded from 1933 to 1950
- Airplane Recordings – Voices recorded from airplane cockpits and black boxes
- Electronic Voice Phenomenon – Recordings of “ghosts” caught on tape
- Azerbaijan’s Voice Recording Archive – Simple site with information and photos
- Voice Recorders – A visual and pictoral history
- Spoken Word Resource – Videos and other resources for the African American Community
- Historical Voices – Audio timeline of the Flint sit down strike of 1936
- Talking History – Historical audio archives
- Oral history of 1968 – Sponsored by Brown University
- The Oral History Association – Learn about oral history
Whether it is Presidential speeches, old Southern Gospel music, or recordings of converstions from our nation’s past, the spoken word and recorded voice is an invaluble resource that gives us true insight into the past. The preservation of the recorded voice is important in order to keep history alive so we can pass it on to future generations.