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Behind the Scenes: Preserving The Murrow Center’s “This I Believe” Audio Collection


Edward R. Murrow's Audio Essays with the Famous -- and Not-So-Famous -- Have Been Digitized and Put Online

More than 800 oral essays from Edward R. Murrow's iconic 1950s radio series, This I Believe, have been digitized and placed online for public use by Tufts University.

The digitization project, carried out by Iron Mountain, included nearly 800 reel-to-reel tape recordings with historical giants such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Harry S. Truman and Adlai Stevenson.

But, Murrow's radio series also included the everyday teacher, butcher and social worker.

Each person was given five minutes to "talk out loud about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives."

The recordings are three to five minutes each. In all, there were 200 reel-to-reel tapes -- countless hours of "priceless, irreplaceable primary source documents that were nearly lost forever due to natural wear and tear from more than 50 years in less than ideal storage," Iron Mountain said.

Some of the lesser known, but no less impactful and fascinating, personalities Murrow hosted included: Tom Dowd, an engineer credited with inventing multi-track recordings; Nancy Astor, Briton's first female member of parliament; and Frank Lloyd, a director, producer, screenwriter and founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The tapes also include Murrow's own introduction to the program.

The Fletcher School's Edward R. Murrow Center for Public Diplomacy commissioned Iron Mountain to digitize the recordings, something that took six months to complete.

"We use a lot of vintage tape machines because we're restoring vintage tapes, so we want to get as close to that era as possible," said Rae DiLeo, studio manager at Iron Mountain's Entertainment Services.

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