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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Decades of recently uncovered speeches given at Portland State University are now available to the world once more.
Original audio from more than 200 speeches given by some of the largest names in modern American history — Robert F. Kennedy, Alan Ginsberg and Carl Sagan among them — has officially been transitioned to a digital format.
The clips capture campus talks from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
“One thing I think is really amazing about this collection is that it captures an amazing time here on campus,” said PSU library technician Carolee Harrison. “This collection really captures a lot of the conversations that were going around.”
A collection very nearly lost. In 2010, library archivist Christine Paschild stumbled upon boxes filled with reel-to-reel audio at the college’s off-site warehouse.
“I popped them open and realized they were original recordings made on campus, not copies of national speeches,” Paschild said.
Realizing the importance and delicate nature of the aging tapes, Paschild obtained a $10,000 grant to pay for an audio professional to transfer the 257 hours of audio into digital recordings.
A speech from Branford Miller, Portland State College’s president in the 1960s and the namesake for PSU’s main library, was the first digital audio to be tested.
“As soon as we heard his voice, we teared up because the tape worked, and also because we heard his voice,” Paschild said. “We never knew what he sounded like until then.”
After a year-long effort, nearly all of the recordings were successfully adapted to digital renderings. All the surviving clips can be heard on the PSU library’s website,