UCSB Library’s Department of Special Research Collections will soon preserve one of the world’s largest collections of radio broadcasting: the American Radio Archives.
“Radio was the cornerstone of American society before TV and the internet, and I commend the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation on their critical work to preserve this history,” said David Seubert, the library’s performing arts curator in a news release. “This is a significant acquisition that will make UCSB a go-to destination for research on entertainment, radio and media.”
The archives, established in 1984 by the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation, includes recordings of Winston Churchill, broadcast photographs, radio and television scripts, books and film dated back to 1922.
“It is critical that such a wonderfully curated collection documenting the golden age of radio is preserved and accessible, said Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña. “UCSB has one of the largest collections of performing arts records, sound recordings and broadcast recordings on the West Coast as well as a state-of-the-art audio laboratory, making it our first choice and a natural fit for the American Radio Archives.”
The collection includes memorabilia purchased from the estate of Rudy Valleé, a popular bandleader and singer of the 1920s and ’30s. Many celebrities were interested in the American Radio Archives after the acquisition, including CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, producer and actor Carl Reiner, and “Star Trek” actor William Shatner.
Norman Corwin, recognized as “America’s poet laureate of radio,” donated his collection in 1990. It spurred many more significant donations, including a collection from Frank Bresee, who hosted “The Golden Days of Radio.”
“The TOFL radio archives brings together the remarkable talent of early radio and bandstand personalities of the 20th century,” said Danelle Moon, director of special research collections at UCSB. “The Rudy Valleé collection alone is a historical gem, providing musicologists, historians, and performing arts scholars unprecedented access to rare sound and archival materials that document this by-gone era. Moreover, this collaboration with TOFL directly supports teaching and learning across disciplines and specifically in the Department of Film and Media Studies.”
The collection is stored across various locations in Thousand Oaks, and a small portion is kept at UCLA.
Transfer to UCSB will allow safer, more accessible storage. The collection will begin its migration in 2021.
For more information on the collection, visit tolibrary.org/ara.