Sam's story sounds similar to the Oscar Wilde recording which was played
on a WOR or WQXR interview program in the 50s which made its way to the
British Institute of Recorded Sound (now the British Library in the
British Museum).  Lloyd Stickels contacted me back in the pre-fax days
by overseas phone call to see if I could identify the radio program and
station, which we did (but I am not near my file to give you the
findings now.)  Richard Lenk had shown me 10-inch lacquers of both the
Wilde and Whitman recordings which were widely circulated among
collectors in NYC in the 50s. He loaned me the Wilde to dub for the
BIRS, and I have also since obtained one of those Wilde discs.  They all
seem to have plain colored paper glued labels with just the poet's name
typed.  The BIRS verdict on the Wilde recording is that the frequency
range of the voice did not match that of the surface noise, and that the
surface noise was too random with no recurring ticks -- they had
obviously just run a needle wandering on the blank side of a shellac
disc and mixed it with the filtered voice track.  I think that the
Whitman has a blank cylinder noise overdubbed with the voice, and the
two recordings might also have differing frequency ranges.  Peter Dilg
might be a good person to analyze the recording since he has a good
command on how an acoustical voice recording of that era should sound. 
There are many legit recordings of this type from this era, and this one
(and the Wilde) just do not sound like acoustical recordings.    

We seem to have a case of dueling journal articles.  On our side is
Allen Koenigsburg's APM article and the other one that everyone on the
web seems to be referencing to is Ed Folsom, "The Whitman Recording,"
Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 9 (Spring 1992), 214-16.  Neither seems
to be available on the web despite several hints we have given to Allen
to post it!  Do any of you in libraries have the WWQR article?  Their
web site postings do not go back as far as issue 9 yet.  References I
have come across to the article seem to indicate that Folsom bases his
theory on a message that Edison wanted a recording of Whitman who also
lived in New Jersey.  The guy seems to have written hundreds of articles
about Whitman but that does not make him an expert in historic sound
recordings, so I am interested in what his theories really are.

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]

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

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]>
> 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.
> Couldn’t someone just post a quick summary of the salient points here?
> I’d love to read the whole thing but it’s 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?  I’m 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