I'm writing a book about "Reverend Mother" Josephine Carbone, an obscure
but powerful religious leader at her peak of her power in the 1930s and
'40s. Carbone ran her own Italian-American Pentecostal church in Brooklyn,
New York, and had about 200 devoted followers. She also had her own radio
program, which is why I'm reaching out. I've been trying to find any
surviving recordings or transcripts of the program; they would be
invaluable to the book.
Here's what I know:
- The name of the program was "La Grande Novella con la Maria Maddalena
Dell'Aria," which roughly translates to "The Great News with the Mary
Magdalene of the Air." "La Maria Maddalena Dell'Aria" was another one of
Carbone's professional titles, in addition to "Reverend Mother" and
"Reverend Madre." I found the copyrighted intro/theme music for the program
in the Library of Congress' Record Sound holdings.
- According to advertisements from 1937 in *Il Progresso*, the major
Italian-language newspaper at the time, Carbone broadcast weekly on WVFW, a
Brooklyn-based station. Carbone broadcast on WVFW from 1937 to at least
1940; WVFW was purchased by WBYN in 1941, so the show could have continued
on WBYN going forward.
- I went to National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, to check WVFW's
Federal Communications Commission license files for any mention of
Carbone's program. One of the files contained a log of three days worth of
WVFW programming that had been recorded and sent to the FCC via 113
cylinders as exhibits in an inter-station dispute. The log included the
Saturday, June 22, 1940 episode of "Grandmother of the Air" -- an
Americanized named for Carbone's program. The episode was 15 minutes long,
conducted in Italian, and conveyed the story of Pinocchio. It was recorded
across Cylinder #967 and Cylinder #968. The FCC files were in Record Group
173 in the textual room. I then pulled all radio recordings/FCC exhibits in
Record Group 173 in the motion picture, sound, and video research room.
There were quite a few WVFW recordings, including some in Italian, but
unfortunately none Carbone's program. From what I understand, having read
and re-read the file, the programs may have been transcribed from the
cylinders -- if so, where did those transcripts go? -- and the cylinders
re-shaved and reused, BUT there's a possibility that the cylinders could
Here's where I've struck out for recordings/transcripts/WVFW holdings:
- Library of Congress
- NARA II
- Paley Center
- NYPL Music & Recorded Sound
- Indiana University archives (Box 24 in this collection
WVFW, but the box contained more license files)
Awaiting responses from:
- Brooklyn Historical Society
- Brooklyn Collection at the Brooklyn Public Library
- Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland
Here's what I'm looking for:
- Any libraries, archives, institutions, stores, or private collections
that might have WVFW holdings (WBYN holdings might be helpful to . I doubt
that Carbone's program would have been catalogued under her name or the
program's title; more likely, it might be labeled "Italian Program WVFW" or
even unlabeled. I'm happy to go on site and comb through them all to find
recordings and/or transcripts of La Maria Maddalena Dell'Aria.
- Any guidance on where to find the specific episode that was recorded and
entered into the FCC log in 1940.
- Any other ideas on where to turn next in my needle-in-the-haystack search.
Thanks so much for your consideration!
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