May 22, 2022

University of Tennessee Libraries: “Digitization Project to Preserve Senate Recordings from the 1950s and ’60s”

From the University of Tennessee Libraries:

The University of Tennessee Libraries was awarded a $49,200 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources* to digitize fragile audiovisual recordings related to the US Congress of the 1950s and ’60s, including film and audio from investigations, interviews, and campaigns of US Senator Estes Kefauver, and recordings of the 1953–1954 Army–McCarthy hearings.

The project, titled “A More Comprehensive Picture: Saving the Audiovisual Records of Congressional Anti-Corruption Efforts in the Papers of US Senator Estes Kefauver and Ray Jenkins,” will digitize materials from UT’s Modern Political Archives. Modern Political Archivist and Associate Professor Kris Bronstad is principal investigator for the grant project. Bronstad prepared the grant proposal with help from Mark Baggett, Emily Gore, Jennifer Beals, Holly Mercer, and UT’s Office of Research.

The Modern Political Archives, a branch of the UT Libraries’ Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives — housed, appropriately, in the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy — comprises roughly 150 collections of materials chronicling some of the most influential public servants from East Tennessee.

Over the next year, the project will digitize approximately 105 films, 52 reel-to-reel audiotapes, 160 two-sided Audograph discs, and 30 Edison Voicewriter discs from Congressional hearings, interviews, speeches, and appearances documenting important anti-corruption efforts in the US Congress of the 1950s and 1960s.

“One wonderful thing about the postwar era of Congress is that many of its sights, sounds, and characters are captured on film and tape,” said Steve Smith, Dean of Libraries. “But even if the entirety of the hearings were broadcast, not many recordings survive. Luckily, we have some further pieces of the picture in the collections of the Modern Political Archives at the University of Tennessee.”

The material, currently housed on fragile media, contains an audio record of the entirety of the high-profile Army–McCarthy hearings, which pitted the Army against US Senator Joseph McCarthy. Those recordings are part of a collection donated to the UT Libraries in 1977 by Tennessee lawyer Ray Jenkins, who served as counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations during the hearings.

Learn More, Read the Complete Post

See Also: Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Awards $570,595 for Recordings at Risk (April 4, 2022)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.