Update: It appears (as of Sunday, 3pm Eastern) the website of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance is unavailable. Make sure to check back. A cached version of the page listing the archived audio tracks now online is available BUT the audio will not play.
From KRCD Radio/NPR:
In the summer of 1948, an amateur folklorist named Ben Stonehill recorded more than 1,000 songs from Holocaust survivors in the lobby of New York City’s Hotel Marseilles.
This week, 66 of those songs become available online through the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, complete with translations; another 300 songs will go up over the next few months — all free for anyone to hear.
Some sing in Russian; some sing in Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, Hebrew. But the majority sing in Yiddish, a language whose speaking population was dramatically reduced during WWII. That loss is a big part of what brought Stonehill to that lobby. He was looking to capture the sound of something he’d feared might disappear.
Miriam Isaacs, a sociolinguist who has been studying the collection, says there’s all kinds of stuff in the music. “There’s babies crying, there’s women giggling, there’s people helping each other out, sometimes joining in song.”
Bret Werb is the sound collection curator at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He acquired Ben Stonehill’s recordings for the museum in 2006. Up until then, copies had sat on the shelves of various institutions, including the Library of Congress, overlooked by all but a small group of researchers.
Read the Complete Article
Listen to NPR Weekend Edition Story About Collection