Aural History Productions
based at the University at Albany, State University of New York, is a production,
distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural"
history. Our mission is to provide teachers, students, researchers and the
general public with as broad and outstanding a collection of audio documentaries,
speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival
audio sources, and other aural history resources as is available anywhere.
We hope to expand our understanding of history by exploring the audio dimensions
of our past, and we hope to enlarge the tools and venues of historical research
and publication by promoting production of radio documentaries and other
forms of aural history. In addition to our weekly radio program, we are
engaged in numerous educational efforts, from running and sponsoring workshops
to offering full-semester courses on radio production and oral history.
Some of the most talented radio producers and engineers currently working
in public and non-commercial radio now contribute to Talking Historyboth
to our programming and to our educational efforts through production workshops.
Here, you'll also find digital archives of their enormously creative and
captivating works. Our
weekly broadcast/internet radio program, Talking History,
focuses on all aspects of history. Follow the link to the left, "The Radio
Show," for more information on the program and to access the live WWW broadcast.
Below you will
find our latest archived shows; use the drop-down
menu to the left to access to our full radio archive.
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October 21, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "A History of Forgetting - From Shellshock to PTSD" (2014)
Here's an exploration of the impact of warfare on soldiers' minds, from ABC Radio National's Hindsight, starting off with an Australian story and expanding it into a broader look at PTSD: "Australia may well hold the record for rescuing the most shell-shocked ANZAC soldier from the front in World War One. His amnesia was total. He couldn't even remember his own name. 'George Brown' became famous in the newspapers of 192'’s as the Unknown Patient of Callan Park, the mental hospital in Sydney. Hundreds turned up to look at him, hoping he was their missing son, brother or husband, finally returned from the trenches.
In this program, we tell George's story.
The Great War was the first time the world experienced trauma on such a massive scale. But the world was ill-equipped to know what to do about it.
Historians are now looking through repatriation files to see the extent of the damage. The medical records of returned servicemen offer a forgotten history, which runs parallel to the public story of the brave men of the ANZAC legend. Incredibly brave they were, but many were deeply troubled and in desperate need of help.
Millions of returned servicemen took their troubles home, where they were encouraged to forget and move on.
From World War One right up until 1980, psychiatrists were predominantly of the view that some men were 'predisposed' to suffer trauma because of their inherent individual weakness. 'Malingering' was of great concern to the military in its administration of war pensions.
In 1980, after lessons learned from the Vietnam War, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first recognised in the DSM -- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
PTSD acknowledged that trauma was created by a catastrophic event outside the range of usual human experience. For the first time, soldiers were not to blame for their own distress.
'The history of forgetting' charts the uneasy relationship between the military, psychiatry and the men and women who've fought those wars."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1929; 1930 film and reading - excerpts).
Here are a couple of excerpt from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front -- first from the 1930 sound film that won Academy Award for Best Picture, and then a very short excerpt from a reading from the original novel (narrator Frank Muller; full version available from Audible Audio Edition). The 1929 novel was one of the most powerful anti-war novels of the 20th century, describing in detail the traumatic impact of war on soldiers' bodies and minds. It was condemned and denounced by the Nazi government in the 1930s and later banned.
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October 14, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "Little Feet ~ Children Starting Over in America" (2014).
From Backstory and the American History Guys: "Stories about the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S./Mexico border filled news pages this summer. It's often been referred to as an immigration 'crisis.' But American history is replete with stories of children leaving their families to start new lives in America. On this week's episode, BackStory delves into some of these, including first-hand accounts of European children sent to America during WWII and of New York orphans who were put on trains out West a generation earlier. And the American History Guys consider the complexities of 'humanitarian' efforts to save children from Communism during the Cold War, as well as from their own Native American pasts. Guests include: Kate Reen, program supervisor at Northern Virginia Family Services talks about the legal, emotional, and practical challenges that accompany children who cross the border on their own; BackStory editor Robert Armengol explores the legacy of Operation Pedro Pan, a plan to save Cuban children from communist indoctrination by leaving their families and resettling in the United States; Historian Tsianina Lomawaima talks about the enduring legacy of Indian
boarding schools, which sought to forcibly integrate tribal children into white society;
Siblings Sheila and Malcolm Barlow, who were sent from wartime London to rural Pennsylvania to escape the danger of German air raids, tell their story; Historian Kristen Lashua tells host Peter Onuf about a wave of kidnappings in 17th century London, where children were abducted specifically to be sold to plantation owners in the New World as indentured servants;
some of the last generation of orphan train riders -- children from the orphanages of New York and other cities who were shipped west to families in the West who needed farm labor -- share their stories."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Charles Lindbergh in Des Moines, Sept. 11, 1941 Speech."
Charles A. Lindbergh delivered this speech at an America First Committee meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on September 11, 1941. His address summarized the reasons why he believed the U.S. should not enter the war in Europe. His continuing vocal opposition-- in 1940 and 1941 -- to U.S. involvement in the growing conflict in Europe greatly alienated him from Franklin Roosevelt and many Americans who were starting to recognize the threat of Fascism. Lindbergh was awarded the Medal of Honor for his historic 1927 trans-Atlantic flight from Long Island to Paris; in 1932, his infant child was kidnapped and murdered. Lindbergh reversed his position on U.S. involvement in WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor. For more information on Lindbergh, see: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lindbergh/index.html.
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October 7, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "Wheelwork of Nature: Tesla and the 21st Century"
From ABC Radio National's Hindsight, here's a creative theatrical documenary on the life and work of electrical engineer Nikola Tesla: "He’s been called a poet of science, modern Prometheus, creator of the 20th century and has been likened, in his polymath genius, to Leonardo da Vinci.
Nikola Tesla is known for the many inventions he gave to the world. He’s also remembered for his eccentricities and some apparently extraordinary, even crazy, claims about discovering different ways of providing energy. But these ideas have proved to be prescient and he’s now seen by some as the first ecologist, a prophet of the 21st century. This program draws on Nikola Tesla's autobiography, to enter into the complex, charged world inside his head, and across a life fused by the rhythmic beat of a fierce imagination, and a thirst for knowledge and meaning. Alongside, some differing perceptions of Tesla are offered, with interpretations of his life and work, and the legacy he’s left to us and to future generations."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "George Wise on Charles Proteus Steinmetz."
Historian of science and technology George Wise explores the early career of another electrical engineer, Charles Proteus Steinmetz. Steinmetz pioneered in the study of AC current and electrical motor efficiency and helped found General Electric's first corporate laboratory in Schenectady, New York. For more information on Steinmetz (and the full video of Wise's comments), see: http://edisontechcenter.org/CharlesProteusSteinmetz.html.
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September 30, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Seve and Protect: A History of the Police" (2014)
Backstory and the American History Guys explore various stories pertaining to the history of policing in America: "For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9 in Ferguson, Mo. -- when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer -- is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used military equipment for crowd control, have generated a new round of questioning about the role of local police in their communities.
So on this episode, we're looking at the history of policing in America, and how the police departments we're familiar with today began to take shape. And we'll consider what happens when the police don't protect those they serve." GUESTS INCLUDE:
The Rev. Thabiti Anyabwile, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.; John Buntin, Author, L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City; Edward Escobar, Arizona State University; Fred Harris, Former Senator from Oklahoma, member of the Kerner Comission; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Alasdair Roberts, Suffolk University School of Law.
Segment 2 | From the Archives:" Calvin Coolidge and 'Law and Order'" (1920)
From Here's a recording from the presidential election of 1920 (from the Library of Congress); it features a talk by Vice Presidentaial candidate Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933). Its relevance as a complement to the above piece should be obviou. From the Library of Congress site: "Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts first achieved national prominence during the Boston police strike of 1919, when he sent a telegram to Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, saying: 'There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time.'
Coolidge was a reserved, uncommunicative New Englander; writer and wit Dorothy Parker once remarked he looked as though he had been "weaned on a pickle." Even so, his obvious integrity and the simple American values he espoused soon made 'Silent Cal' a popular figure. He succeeded to the presidency upon Harding's death in 1923, and was elected to the White House in his own right in 1924."
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September 23, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "War, Lies, and Audiotape" (2014).
From Hindsight and Somethin' Else Production -- and BBC -- here's a look back at the events that led to rapid escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam: "The war between the United States and Vietnam cost over 58,000 American and more than one million Vietnamese lives. It left one country physically devastated and the other socially splintered. It began, President Lyndon Johnson told the world, with an 'unprovoked attack' on American ships on the night of August 4, 1964.
What we know today is that the incident that was reported to have taken place in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam didn't ever happen. Yet three days later it was cited as the justification for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution which authorised "the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."
The Gulf of Tonkin was the crucial turning point. In 1960 there were 900 American troops in Vietnam - by the end of 1965 there were nearly 200,000.
Did President Johnson take his country to war on a lie, or was he misled?
Journalist and historian D. D. Guttenplan explores these dramatic events through archive recordings and new interviews with the key players, bringing all the evidence together for the first time. Taped White House phone calls transport us back to that day - we'll listen in on President Johnson as he discusses the situation with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and hear the situation unfold through conversations between key military personnel.
Daniel Ellsberg remembers being in the Pentagon receiving reports of the incident on the day, and Jim Stockdale tells us how his father was flying above the USS Maddox when the attack supposedly happened.
Producer: Peggy Sutton; A Somethin' Else production."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Telephone Interview with Nurse Ruby Brooks About Evacuation of Survivors of the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu (2004)."
Telephone interview with Ruby Brooks, nurse aboard USS Haven during the evacuation of defeated French survivors of Dien Bien Phu from Saigon in September 1954. Conducted by Jan K. Herman and Andre Sobocinski, Historians of the Navy Medical Department, 28 June 2004. Available on archive.org at: https://archive.org/details/BROOKSRuby.
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September 16, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Untrammeled ~ Americans and the Wilderness"
Backstory and the American History Guys mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act with this examination of wilderness and the changing attitudes about it -- "exploring Americans' fascination with, and fear of, wild places-- and the ways in which humans have impacted even the most remote corners of the country. From early early English colonists who saw wilderness in an already settled land, to 19th and 20th century Americans who sought to flee cities and find peace in nature, we're taking a look at how our physical and mental landscapes have changed over time. Journalist Charles Mann, author of 1493, tells the Guys about how the 'wilderness' that Europeans first encountered in New England wasn't so wild after all -- and how those early colonists, in their drive to settle the land, actually created untamed forests.
Host Ed Ayers talks with historian Lisa Brady about fears of the encroaching wilderness brought on by the 'slash and burn' tactics of advancing Union soldiers in the Civil War South.
Historian Char Miller and host Brian Balogh discuss how John Muir, the city of San Francisco, and Teddy Roosevelt's right-hand man, Gifford Pinchot, battled over the fate of the remote Hetch Hetchy valley in Yosemite National Park. Producer Jesse Dukes has the story of some five hundred families who were made to leave their homes in an area supposedly 'pristine and free of human habitation' to create Shenandoah National Park.
Writer Emma Marris and historian Paul Sutter join the Guys as they discuss the Wilderness Act of 1964, and how American ideas of the wilderness and how it should be used have changed -- and what the future of the wild is in a world where nothing is completely unchanged by human activity."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: A LibiVox reading ~ "Henry David Thoreau's 'The Wild' (from Walking, 1852; 1862)."
From LibriVox, we offer this short selection of Henry David Thoreau's ruminations on wilderness and "the wild." See the following for background and a summary of the essay (source: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/t/thoreau-emerson-and-transcendentalism/thoreaus-walking/summary-and-analysis): "Thoreau's essay "Walking" grew out of journal entries developed in 1851 into two lectures, "Walking" and "The Wild," which were delivered in 1851 and 1852, and again in 1856 and 1857. Thoreau combined the lectures, separated them in 1854, and worked them together again for publication in 1862, as he was dying. "Walking" was first published just after the author's death, in the June 1862 issue of Atlantic Monthly. . . . .Thoreau takes up the subject of the wild (synonymous with the west), in which he finds "the preservation of the World." The legend of Romulus and Remus (founders of Rome, who as infants were suckled by a wolf) demonstrates that civilization has drawn strength from the wild. He writes of the wildness of primitive people, of his own yearning for "wild lands where no settler has squatted," and of his hope that each man may be "a part and parcel of Nature" (the phrase repeated from the beginning of the essay), exuding sensory evidence of his connection with her. He equates wildness with life and strength. He himself prefers the wild vigor of the swamp, a place where one can "recreate" oneself, to the cultivated garden. The wild confers health on both the individual and society." For the full reading of Thoreau's work, go to: https://librivox.org/walking-by-henry-david-thoreau/. For the full text, see: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1022.
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September 9, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "The War of the Worlds: Myth or Legend"
From ABC Radio National's Hindsight, we bring you this excellent documentary that revisits Orson Wells' classic 1938 broadcast: "It's more than 75 years since the broadcast of one of the best known hoaxes in the history of radio - Orson Welles' production of The War of The Worlds. Some now believe that the newspapers of the time, fearing the growing power of radio, exaggerated events in order to discredit the new medium. Nevertheless, when The War Of The Worlds dramatisation was repeated in Ecuador in 1949 it triggered a dramatic and tragic series of events, and saw the radio station that broadcast the program set alight and burnt to the ground. . . ."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness" (1899; LibriVox reading).
On November 6, 1938, one week after they broadcast the radio adaptation of War of the Worlds, The Mercury Theater of the AIr broadcast an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's 1899 novel Heart of Darkness. Though that broadcast survives, the audio is of such poor quality that we could not re-broadcast it (you can listen to it -- and other broadcasts -- at: http://www.mercurytheatre.info). However, we did find a reading of the novel from LibriVox. Here is a short excerpt from the novel. For the full reading, go to: https://librivox.org/heart-of-darkness-by-joseph-conrad. Here is a short summary of the novel, also from Lbrivox: "Set in a time of oppressive colonisation, when large areas of the world were still unknown to Europe, and Africa was literally on maps and minds as a mysterious shadow, Heart of Darkness famously explores the rituals of civilisation and barbarism, and the frighteningly fine line between them. We get the tale through a classic unreliable narrator, relating as Marlow, a ship’s captain, tells how he was sent by the Company to retrieve the wayward Kurtz, and was shaken to discover the true depths of darkness in that creature’s, and in his own, soul. Conrad based the work closely on his own terrible experience in the Congo. This work has been reinterpreted and adapted into many modern forms, the most well known being the film Apocalypse Now. (Summary written by Marlo Dianne) ."
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September 2, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "The Great War"
From Backstory and the American History guys" "World War I was sometimes called 'Tthe war to end all wars." But a hundred years after the fighting began, it's become a war that's often forgotten in American history, or viewed as a prelude to WWII. In this episode, we explore some of the ways the conflict affected Americans far beyond the battlefields of Europe -- from debates about the meaning of free speech, to the fight over how the war would be remembered."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Eugene V. Debs, 1904, on the Benefits of Socialism -- as read by Leon Spencer."
During the 1904 presidential campaign Eugene Debs gave a speech, read here and recorded in the Edison Studio by Leon Spencer, on the benefits of socialism. Additional details on the recording and the speech are at http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5658.
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August 26, 2014
Segment 1 | Hindsight: "Famagusta 'Ammochostos': hidden in the sand" (2014).
From Hindsight, the Australia Radio National program that looks at the past, we present this documentary exploring some of the recent history of divided Cyprus. Produced by Anna Messariti, with sound engineering by Andrei Shabunov, the program marks the 40th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in 1974. "The setting is Famagusta which appears as a 'double city': on the one hand, a beautiful but crumbling medieval town, set against the stunning backdrop of its more Ancient Greek past. On the other hand, it's a modern, new but completely derelict city; situated by the seaside, of about eight square kilometres, and is called Varosha -- and surprisingly, Varosha has been a ghost town since 1974. It's hard to imagine the existence of a ghost city by the seashore, especially in Cyprus--a tourist mecca and a member country of the European Unio--but, since ancient times, this tiny Eastern Mediterranean island has suffered a turbulent history.
This documentary investigates the so-called Cyprus Problem, which has remained static for forty years. The heart of the program lies in an articulation of the experiences and perspectives of women and children during the war in 1974 and of its aftermath." For more information about the program, see: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/famagusta/5642146.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: 'U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's Speech on U.S.-Cyprus Relations, delivered on his visit to Cyprus" (May 22, 2014).
Here is the audio of remarks by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at an official lunch with President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus. A full transcription of his remarks can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/22/remarks-vice-president-joe-biden-official-lunch-president-nicos-anastasi. You can also find a video recording of both Biden's and President Anastadiades' speeches here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4wO3KurOgk. Biden noted that he was the first U.S. VP to visit Cyprus since Lyndon B. Johnson visited in 1962.
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August 19, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "On the Take ~ Corruption in America" (2014).
Backstory and the American History guys explore various stories of corruption in American history: "It's a worry as old as the Republic: Do politicians look out for the public good, or their own private interests? But what exactly Americans consider the corruption of public office has changed over time. This week, BackStory shines a light on fears of corruption in America–from back room deals in Congress, to paying bureaucrats on commission, to the taint of corporate money in modern politics.
Elliot Berke, Managing Partner, Berke-Farah; Daniel Feller, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Joanne Freeman, Yale University; Nicholas Parrillo, Yale University; Michael Smith, McNeese State University; Adam Winkler, UCLA."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: 'Almanac Newsreel: Teapot Dome" (1958).
Here is the audio of a short newsreel describing one of the two most important scandals in 20th century U.S. history: the Teapot Dome scandal. You can see the original version (in video) in this collection, available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gk9ebeaZcU.
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August 12, 2014
Segment 1 | "Hindsight: The Guns of August" (2014).
Here's another segment from the weekly history program Hindsight from Australia's Radio National -- focusing on Barbara Tuchman's Guns of August and its influence on John F. Kennedy and Cold War diplomats." In 1962, American historian Barbara Tuchman published The Guns of August, a book about the first month of World War 1, from the opening shots to the Allied victory against the Germans at the First Battle of the Marne. It also depicts the diplomatic chaos preceding it – the July crisis – how political events can spiral out of control, how human failings affect crucial decisions, and how military plans can take on their own unstoppable imperative.
In 1962, there were lessons here for the belligerents of a new era – the Cold War. The Guns of August became a surprise best seller and won the coveted Pulitzer prize, but did it help to save the world from nuclear conflagration?" Guests include: Margaret MacMillan,
Professor of History at St Anthony's College, Oxford;
Professor of History at San Francisco State University;
Professor of Diplomatic History at the University of East Anglia;
James Der Derian,
Michael Hintze Chair of International Security Studies, and Director of the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney;
Journalist and historian of the Cold War;
Professor of History at Le Moyne College.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: 'Harold Macmillan at DePauw University" (1958).
Harold Macmillan, who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from January 1957 to October 1963, delivered this talk at DePauw Universisty in Indiana in June of 1958. Macmillan, like John F. Kennedy, was quite impressed with Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August (he received a copy from Kennedy soon after its publication in 1962). And like Kennedy, the book influenced -- or reinforced -- his approach to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. For more information on his 1958 talk, see: )http://www.depauw.edu/news-media/latest-news/details/20586/.
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August 5, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Tapped Out ~ Thirsting for Fresh Water" (2014).
From Backstory and the American History guys, we bring you this historical exploration of the quest for water in American history: "The Western U.S. is in the grip of a punishing drought. Reservoir levels are dropping, and farmers are struggling to ensure water access for their crops and livestock. Consider California. Without water access, one of the nation’s largest states could lose up to $2.2 billion in revenue -- and let's not forget the strain on an already fragile climate. Some scientists even fear that Americans have reached 'peak water' in the West.
In this episode, we’re looking at how Americans have managed access to water throughout our history. From early legal struggles over natural waterways to the shared irrigation systems of New Mexico, we'’ll consider how Americans have divided up water rights for private profit and public good. We'll explore how ideas about usage shifted as the country expanded into the water-scarce West. And we'll even take a dip into the debate over who could use swimming pools in the 1920s.
William Kahrl; Dan Tarlock, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law; Jeff Wiltse, University of Montana; Ralph Vigil, Member, New Mexico Acequia Commission."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: 'The Sons of the Pioneers Sing 'Cool Water'" (1936; 1947).
There are many songs about water and water scarcity. One of the best known is
Bob Nolan's "Cool Water," written in 1936 and recorded by
Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers -- a pioneering Western music group that included Bob Nolan and Roy Rogers.
The recording was released by RCA Victor Records. For more details about Nolan and The Sons of the Pioneers, see: http://www.sonsofthepioneers.org/History_Sons_of_the_Pioneers.html.
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