Middlebury College’s Library & Information Services (LIS) will participate in a federal grant rewarded to the Northeast Document Conservation Center to digitize wax cylinder recordings in the Flanders Ballad Collection, one of the nation’s great archival collections of New England folksong, folklore, and balladry.
Working in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the grant will use IRENE/3-D, a system that uses digital imaging to retrieve sound from historical recordings made on discs and wax cylinders that might otherwise be unplayable. IRENE/3-D was used at the Library of Congress in 2012 to extract sound from discs produced by Alexander Graham Bell whose contents hadn’t been heard since they were made about 125 years ago.
Middlebury College will make available over 200 wax cylinders and more than 1,000 records from the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection. This new technology will make it possible to capture sound even from broken and cracked cylinders and records, making it possible to play ballads not heard for over 80 years.
Along with Middlebury College, The Woody Guthrie Archives and The Carnegie Hall Archives will make historical records available to the project.
The Library of Congress Blog post on IRENE/3D
Playback: 130-Year-Old Sounds Revealed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Press Release for the NEDCC Grant Project
About Middlebury College – Helen Hartness Flanders Collection
About Carnegie Hall Archives Collections
About the Woody Guthrie Archives