I admire what you are undertaking, which is a mammoth task. I worked at the
University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg), The Mississippi Department
of Archives & History (Jackson) & Tougaloo College (a famous African
American College that housed and was involved with the Freedom Riders in the
1960's). I was working on the audio collections if the Civil Rights Era in
I have also done other work at other Colleges & Libraries in MS. Even
though I did not hear recordings of the 1930's, and I understand that
slavery was abolished in 1865, after the Civil War, I did hear audio
interviews of people who had had slaves, and some who 'claimed' they didn't
have a slave but they had "blacks' who drove them around, did their
cleaning, cooking, etc.
I heard stories from people whose mother's & father's had been slaves, along
with the family, living on the plantations. To me, it may well have been
abolished but it was still going strong.
The Civil Rights Movement has done a lot to change racism but, I felt it was
still there in a covert way. You only have to hear the words like them and
us to realize.
On a final note, at the last ARSC conference I played some audio from a
black soldier who had risked his life for his fellow Americans in WWII.
When he came home he got on the bus with his Aunt and sat in the middle of
the bus. He was told - Niggers sit in the back of the bus. I found it very
If you would like to email me off the list, please feel free to do so. I
have some useful contacts you could get in touch with.
Sound Archivist/Audio Engineer/Sound Consultant
3017 Nebraska Avenue
Santa Monica, CA, 90404
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Bob Olhsson
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 1:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Sounds of Slavery
From Bertram Lyons: "...Did unknown individuals make attempts to capture the
sounds of slaves previously to the 1930s?..."
There obviously had been no slaves for decades when the phonograph was
invented so it really comes down to how one chooses to define "the sounds of
slaves." Early recordings were generally a commercial venture and it can be
argued that most of what was recorded in the southeastern US is the music of
students of former slaves and their children. There are answers at Fisk and
the other traditionally black colleges and universities in the southeast
that go beyond minstrel show stereotypes. I would hope that unprejudiced
research happens sooner rather than later because many of the people who
know the story handed down from their parents and grandparents are
approaching the end of their life.
I'm very offended that I've only begun to learn the real story of African
American music at age 61 because of the pervasive racism found in most of
the literature I've encountered about American music. I'm sorry if pointing
this out steps on toes but to say nothing only perpetuates racial
stereotypes and disenfranchises all Americans from arguably our most
significant cultural accomplishment.
Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!