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Communications Professor, Feinberg Library Special Collections Create Access to Rare Historical Recordings

Access to hundreds of historical audio recordings from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties is now available in Feinberg Library's Special Collections at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Recordings include Adirondack folk music; oral histories from the three counties, including those by local residents born prior to the American Civil War; SUNY Plattsburgh concerts; a 1963 recording of Edward “Doc” Redcay on piano and Junior Barber on dobro; and four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Frost reading his works.

The collection is the result of a collaborative effort by SUNY Plattsburgh Communication Professor Timothy Clukey and Feinberg Library’s Special Collections staff.

A Soundscriber Recorder was used in the mid-20th century by Marjorie Lansing Porter, historian for Clinton and Essex counties. Porter recorded 456 interviews with elderly local residents telling their stories and singing traditional Adirondack folk music.

Among the folk music captured by Porter is a recording of Granma Delorme singing more than 100 folk songs, including a Battle of Plattsburgh ballad composed by Gen. Alexander Macomb’s wife.

Also captured is "Yankee" John Galusha singing “The Three Hunters,” “A Lumbering We Shall Go” and “Adirondack Eagle,” as well as Francis Delong singing “My Adirondack Home” and “Peddler Jack.”

Some of the recorded songs deal with historical subjects like mining, lumbering and Adirondack folk tales. Others are traditional Irish and French folk music handed down through generations.

Porter's oral collection also covers topics of historical interest in the region like ferry boats, Redford glass, mining and lumbering.

All of the Soundscriber discs in the Marjorie Lansing Porter Collection have been digitized and are available as mp3 files on the new Audio Station computer in SUNY Plattsburgh’s Special Collections.

The Audio Station also includes 96 interviews conducted by William Langlois and Robert McGowan with elder Franklin County residents in the 1970s.

Plans for additions to the Audio Station include:

• Rockwell Kent audio recordings (now on reel-to-reel tapes in Special Collections’ Rockwell Kent Collection).

• SUNY Plattsburgh Past President Dr. George Angell speaking on antiwar action in 1967—“Protest is Not Enough."

• A 1965 SUNY Plattsburgh Students for a Democratic Society and Student Education Association of New York State teach-in on “The Vietnam Question” with introduction by Angell.

• A 1964 speech by Senator-Elect Robert Kennedy on the Plattsburgh campus.

• A 1964 meeting between the senator-elect and Angell, discussing various local and county concerns and other topics.

Copyright restrictions require that researchers visit Special Collections during open hours to listen to any of these recordings.

For more information, contact Special Collections Librarian Debra Kimok at [email protected] or 518-564-5206.

During the summer, Special Collections will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Saturday appointments can be arranged with the Special Collections Librarian.

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