Portland State University’s archivist Cristine Paschild was wandering through the school’s warehouse one day in 2010 when she came across a box with the vague label of “reel-to-reel.” Paschild opened up the box and found lectures by Dave Brubeck, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert F. Kennedy. She assumed at first that these were national speeches that PSU had acquired copies of, but a little more digging showed they were recordings of lectures given at PSU during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s — 257 hours of them to be exact.
It would be three years before Paschild or anyone else heard anything on the tapes, however, because the recordings were at risk of being destroyed if they were played. With the help of a $10,000 grant through the Library Services and Technology Act, a reel-to-reel player the library purchased on Ebay, and a digital recorder, the speeches have been digitally transferred, and are available in their entirety on PSU’s website.
So, where do you begin to dive into these many hours of lectures? PSU archivist and head of special collections Cristine Paschild will help guide us through some of the highlights of the collection.