Sam's summary of Allen's article is correct. Allen detailed how he tracked the recording to Roscoe 
Haley of NYC, but that Haley was already dead when he got on his trail (reminded me of the story --  
not sure if it's 100% true but it's been told in several books -- of Lomax tracking Robert Johnson 
and getting to Johnson's kin, only to find out he was recently dead). By my reading of it (someone 
was kind enough to send me a low-resolution scan that was quite readable with a magnifier), Allen 
definitely cast plenty of doubt on the recording -- including the fact that there was no mention of 
it by Whitman's caretaker or record of it being completed in the Edison business-record archives. He 
also traced the recording to Haley, but Haley was dead and his "half vast" collection had been 
dissipated by the time Allen got there. The article also mentions that Haley had tried to sell a 
bunch of "historic recordings" including the Whitman to Yale and Yale had backed away once they 
started doing due dilligence, but no details beyond that were offered. My conclusion -- one man's 
opinion -- from the article was that Allen sewed a field's worth of doubt but didn't prove the 
recording to be a fake because he never explained either how Haley produced the fake or where Haley 
got the fake, and in that case who produced the fake. As I've said here before, it sounds like a 
phoney to me, the background noise sounds looped and the voice quality is not like other cylinders 
I've heard. All spoken cylinders I've heard, the person couldn't murmer or mumble, they had to 
near-shout or shout into the horn.

By the way, I really appreciate the discussion on this list. Thanks for the education. My only 
knowledge of this recording until this discussion was the Rhino set, and I had never listened 
carefully to it until we started discussing it. Like I said, it sounds like a fake to my ears, after 
listening to numerous cylinders, both played on original players and transfers by others. And thanks 
to the person who sent the article scan. If he pings me off-list and says it's OK to share it, I'll 
post it somewhere -- but get your magnifiers out!

Sam, is that debate audio on NPR's website?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sam Brylawski" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 11:30 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Walt Whitman Recording

This is what I remember. (I debunked it on an NPR news show over a
decade ago. It was only my opinion, based on a little research on
Whitman and what I heard; Allen's article is the best case against

As I recall the cylinder was played on an NBC radio program in the
early 1950s. Allen will correct me but wasn't the cylinder a "find" of
someone named Roscoe Haley, a known conniver? I didn't know that the
cylinder was ever found. I thought that Haley presented only a lacquer
disc copy.

I had a friendly debate on its authenticity with the editor of the
Rhino set, which includes the recording. What I learned from that, and
hearing from other believers, is that when you really *want* to
believe something is true, facts and evidence are mere nuisances to be
flitted aside. Like forever believing in Kennedy assassination


On Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 10:33 PM, Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>>Hi, if anyone has a copy of the article in question, I would appreciate a
>>PDF or a photocopy.
> Couldnít someone just post a quick summary of the salient points here?
> Iíd love to read the whole thing but itís apparently hard to get and I
> think folks here just want to know definitively: is it or is it NOT what
> it purports to be? Iím certain from listening to it that it is not
> authentic Whitman, but who is it?? And how do we know?
> Thanks.
> --
> Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]>
> Professional Audio for CD, DVD, Broadcast & Internet