Category Archives: Eisenhower Receives Life Fellowship Award

The Sound of Eisenhower in the Digital Collections

Up to this point, we have highlighted various texts and images in the Digital Collections. This week we are going to look at some of the sound recordings we have in the Digital Collections.

In particular, this post showcases the Eisenhower Receives Life Fellowship Award collection, which contains sound recordings captured on April 2nd, 1946. They were then digitized in 2010 through a grant from the Monuments Men Foundation.  As the museum celebrated its 75th anniversary, an honorary life fellowship was awarded to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. This award was bestowed on him for his role in helping the work of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, better known as the “Monuments Men”, during their efforts to safeguard and repatriate works of art threatened during World War II.

Great Hall and balconies filled with spectators

Great Hall and balconies filled with spectators

Over 10,000 people crowded in to watch the ceremony.  Although not all could fit in the Great Hall, loudspeakers were installed throughout the museum so that everyone could hear. 

There were several different speakers. Here is a recording of Cardinal Spellman, then the archbishop of New York:

 

We also have four recordings of Thomas J. Watson, who our library is named after, speaking at the event, all of which can be accessed here.

Thomas J. Watson addressing the gathering

Thomas J. Watson addressing the gathering

Francis Henry Taylor, director of the museum, declared that the award was “in a sense, more than a gesture by the entire academic world to the man who, more responsible than any other, has made it possible for the world of great civilization in the past to continue for future generations”:

 

Jarmila Novotná, the famed soprano of the Metropolitan Opera, sang the Star Spangled Banner:

 

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke (the file is too large to embed, so follow this link to access the audio), expressing his appreciation: “I am grateful to the directors of the Metropolitan Museum for their generosity in having accorded me an honorary membership for my small part in protecting these monuments. The credit belongs to the officers and men of the combat echelons whose veneration for priceless treasures persisted even in the heat and fears of battle”:

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower addressing the gathering

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower addressing the gathering

The original analog sound recordings are contained on 78rpm aluminum-based 12″ lacquer discs and were transferred to digital files by Seth B. Winner Sound Studios in an effort to preserve and provide ongoing access to these valuable artefacts.  While the transcripts of and quotes from these speeches are moving to read, nothing quite conveys the feeling as well as the sound of the people themselves, their voices, accents and intonations, and the applause and laughter of the audience.