This thread has caused me to wonder just what is considered "historical" recordings anyway? One usually only hears this term attached to jazz or classical,but I would argue that anything that is at least "a generation" old,could be considered "historical",so that would mean The Mummies,or Nirvana,are now considered as "historic" as Wilem Mengelberg,or King Oliver.


From: Dave Radlauer <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sun, April 18, 2010 1:31:24 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] The trials of trying to give away a record

> <<George, I hear what you're saying, but there is no such thing as 
> "unedited history" beyond what is
> processed in an individual's brain, and then it's only that individual's 
> unedited history. >>

As regards "History" vs 'history.'  The past is past.  But "History" (the 
formal study of the past) changes with each generation, each innovation in 
the study of history, and each new ideological paradigm.  

We do not know definitively what material will be useful to that endeavor 
in the future.  

I'm not making a jocular comment when I note that we are now able to 
extract useful DNA information from archaeologically retrieved feces.  Who could 
have known a few decades ago that this seemingly most worthless of artifacts 
could provide valuable health, genealogic or climate information?  

So there are substantive questions to be asked about the philosophy and 
methodology of preservation. And this good reason to let a thousand 
preservation regimes flourish.

However, archival preservation is not HISTORY, it is collection and 
preservation of DATA, though it nonetheless is an essential and useful tool for and 
adjunct to the study of "History."

<< a classical pianist once, when the man
> was in his 70's. Somehow we got on the subject of how he'd be remembered 
> and he glumly noted that
> his recordings would stand far longer than the experience of seeing him in 
> concert. Yet, he had
> spent thousands more hours performing in concert -- and he believed he had 
> performed every single
> work he had done best in concert -- than in front of microphones making 
> records. So you can see how
> this is the classic example of "sampling" first-person experiences and 
> calling it history.  >>
Do we know definitively if some of these live performances were in some way 
recorded?  As electronic media advance, more and more recordings of 
events, communications and images will exist and many will hopefully get 

Lib of Congress has recently decided to preserve a large body of Tweet 
messages sent by Twitter.  Would that we could have had such contemporary data 
from the Constitutional Convention; while I suspect that few to none would 
prove to be as useful as the Madison Papers, they are DATA for Historians.

So I'm advocating for a broad spectrum of preservation filters;  
archivists of the 1920s and '30s might not have considered Louis Armstrong or Duke 
Ellington as significant as Walter Winchell or HL Menken, more's the pity.  
Much of great value that now occupies public archives was first collected in 
private hands and only later passed on.  Therefore, despite what archivists 
and preservationists decide is important and worth acquiring and 
preserving, the act of collection goes on anyway.

Just some random thoughts on this fascinating thread.


Dave Radlauer