Information Bulletin no. 51, December 2004

Election of IASA Executive Board 2005

It is election time again! The new IASA Executive Board has to be elected in 2005 for a period of three years.

The following Executive Board positions need to be filled:

Three Vice-Presidents
Secretary General

Nominations should be sent to any of the Nominating Committee members by 12 January 2005, at the latest. A list of the nominations will be mailed to you by 12 May 2005 for postal ballot. The deadline for these postal ballots is 12 August 2005.

Before being nominated, candidates should approach their institutions regarding the financial commitment required by membership of the Executive Board, and indicate on their application form the level of support their institution, and/or they personally, would be able to provide. Although IASA recognizes that many applicants may have financial constraints, it prefers applicants to receive as much assistance as possible from their institutions, as it enables IASA to use its financial resources for other activities.

The Nomination Committee will examine the candidates' nominations in due time. If a nomination does not correspond to the guidelines, the Nomination Committee may ask the candidate for a statement. It is important to note that the Nomination Committee is not permitted to decline nominations.

Please send your nominations to the Nominating Committee:

Sven Allerstrand (Chair)
Statens ljud- och bildarkiv
Box 24124

Samuel Brylawski
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540-4690

Ray Edmondson
100 Learmonth Drive, Kambah
ACT 2902 Australia

Archives Speak: Who Listens?

IASA Conference 2005, Barcelona, 11 - 15 September
First Call for Papers

Digital technology and the increasing demand for audiovisual material in support of learning, structured or personalised, have encouraged archives to increase their promotional activities and raise their public profile accordingly. But how much do we know about our audiences, their expectations and intentions? What are the obligations, legal and moral, particularly with respect to the creators of the content we collect, that constrain our interaction with these audiences. What is the impact on the traditional set of skills expected of an audiovisual archivist?

IASA seeks proposals for papers, of not more than twenty minutes' duration, that address one or more of the following sub-themes, which are associated with the new emphasis on disseminating archival content:

  • User demands in the era of digitisation

  • Archives and collaborative ventures

  • User expectations and user perspectives on archives

  • Preservation vs dissemination

  • The digital divide - serving users outside the digital domain

  • Promotional strategies for archives

  • Moral and legal obligations of the archives and their users

  • New technologies and models for dissemination

  • Digital demands - the changing profile of archives

  • The community and the archive

  • Archives as custodians of social memory

In addition, the Programme Committee is keen to receive proposals for papers that feature recent experiences of promotional activities, and draw comprehensively on different types of audiovisual recording (eg oral history and language, environmental sounds and actuality, recordings of music and literature). The committee seeks proposals that include visual content and audio.

Please send your proposal, with your name and address, to:

Shubha Chaudhuri: or

Proposals should be accompanied by an abstract of not more than 150 words. The deadline for this first call for papers is 31 January 2005. Contributors will be notified in March of the Programme Committee's decision.

Travel Grants for IASA Members

IASA's policy is to encourage members to apply for travel grants to enable their attendance at the annual conference. Normally, IASA would meet 50% of travelling expenses (the cheapest standard class return air or train fare between the applicant's home and the conference venue). These grants are made subject to the Association's financial position, and applications are prioritised according to the following factors:

  1. An applicant who is to present a paper at the annual conference is given higher priority/has a better chance of receiving a travel grant than applicants who are not reading papers.

  2. IASA may, in addition, approach the local conference organiser and request that the grantee's registration fee be waived. The decision in each case is up to the conference organiser.

  3. Applications must be made in writing (by letter, fax or e-mail), and sent to the Secretary General in response to the announcement of travel grants in the IASA Information Bulletin and on the IASA List-Serv. Applications should state the full amount of the travelling expenses in US$ or Euro, confirmed, for instance, by an official travel agency.

  4. Applications from representatives of institutional members should be countersigned by the director, or a senior officer, of their organisation as evidence that their attendance has been authorised.

  5. Accommodation and subsistence expenses will not be carried.

  6. IASA does not pay grants in advance of travel.

  7. The Secretary General checks all the applications received by the set deadline, and submits them to the Executive Board for discussion and approval.

  8. Applicants are informed of the result as soon as possible after the board has reached its decision.

Grantees are reimbursed for expenses on presentation of copies of their travel documents to the IASA Treasurer during the conference. Otherwise, payment is made after the conference, and the method of payment should be specified in the application, including how and to whom the monies are to be paid.

IASA travel grants are considered only for members; accompanying persons are not eligible.

The deadline for application for travel grants to go to the IASA Conference in Barcelona, 11- 15 September 2005, is 1 March 2005. Please complete the Travel Grant application form.

Eva Fønss-Jørgensen
IASA Secretary General

New Members

Bibliothèque nationale du Sénégal s/c Direction du Livre et de la Lecture, 19 Avenue Albert Sarraut, BP 3393 Dakar RP. The Senegal National Library has been established three years ago with six people. They are trying to develop a department of sound and audiovisual documents.

Jamila Ellis, Sound System Asociation Of Jamaica, 1 Whitehall Ave, KGN 8, Jamaica.

Archivio di Etnografia e Storia Sociale, Dott. Ermanno Boccalari D.G. Presidenza - Regione Lombardia Struttura Programmi e relazioni esterne Rappresentanza Istituzionale Via Pola, 12 20124 Milano. The Archivio di Etnografia e Storia Sociale (AESS) is an archive of the Lombardy Region that deals with Folklore, Oral and Social History, and Ethnomusicology. It preserves, catalogues and distributes audio, photographic and audiovisual material. These documents have been collected since 1950. The scope of AESS is to promote knowledge of the traditional culture of the Lombardy Region in all its aspects, and to acquire knowledge of the multimedia resources in the archival application. Part of the AESS documentation is available on the website:

Anthony Olusola Duyilemi, English Studies Department, Adekunle Ajasin University, P.M.B. 001, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. Tony says he joined IASA to enhance his knowledge of phonetics.

Bronwyn Officer, 33 Huanui St, Ranui Heights, Porirua, New Zealand. Bronwyn says she has been to many IASA events, and finds the support and networking invaluable.

Almut Boehme, Head of Music, National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH 1 IEW, UK

Digitisation in North America

Five Canadian and eleven US collections replied to the supplementary questions included in the Survey of Endangered Audiovisual Carriers done by the IASA Technical Committee in 2003. The following regional report is based on these replies.

In Canada, the National Archive of Quebec reported that, during the coming year, they plan to digitise the collection of U-Matic video cassettes. The task is urgent because of the rate of decay of the tapes and increasing difficulty of maintaining the machines in working order. They are considering using DVD-R for the digitised copies.

The Glenbow Archives in Calgary are digitising their holdings to improve access and reduce handling of, and therefore stress on, the original recordings. They report that it is increasingly difficult to maintain reel-to-reel machines in working order. Recently, a machine had to be shipped to Toronto for repair.

The University of Manitoba Archives and Special Holdings in Winnipeg have recently completed digitisation of 7000 images from the collection of copies of the Winnipeg Tribune newspaper to improve access to the holdings. They plan to continue digitising other sections of their holdings as resources permit. As with the newspaper images, the primary aim is to improve access to the material.

The archive has growing concern about maintaining their collections of film and video recordings. Most of the video is in U-Matic format, currently being migrated to Beta SP for preservation and to video disc for access. Before beginning the digitisation project, the archive commissioned a report in 2002 from Jane Dalley - Conservation Survey of Audio Visual Records - and the work is following the principles set out in the report.

The archive does not maintain its own machines. This work is done by other departments in the University. It is clear, however, that the maintenance staff are struggling to keep the U-Matic video cassette players, 35mm film projector and reel-to-reel audio machines functioning.

Since 1997 the City of Vancouver Archives in British Columbia have had a continuing programme of digitisation for their collection of 1.5 million still images. To date, they have scanned 41,000 images to digital formats. Priority has been given to the most vulnerable parts of the collection. All the glass negatives and many of the acetate negatives have been copied. After copying, the acetate negatives are frozen.

The scans are not intended to be of the highest quality as the originals are still available. The black and white images are stored as a file of about 7 MB in size, which permits an acceptable print of up to 30 by 40 inches (90 by 120 cm) to be made. Smaller files are made using JPEG for placing on the archive's website. The archive has one scanner and hires staff whenever funds permit.

The archive also wants to digitise its collection of audio recordings, making a digital preservation master and digital copies for access. Owing to a lack of suitable machines in-house, the archive intends to use outside contractors to undertake copying of the film and video collections.

The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria is running a project to copy several thousand audio tapes from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. These are being copied onto CD-R and catalogued. While this is of primary benefit to the CBC, the museum is also benefiting because the original tapes and copies of the discs will be held at the institution.

As far as machinery goes, the main area of concern is video. Playback equipment is required for 2-inch, 1-inch and ½-inch video tapes. They also have trouble acquiring playback machines for new media. At present, there are no major difficulties keeping their machines working. One area that they have identified as being in need of improvement is routine servicing and cleaning of the machines. This they feel is too sporadic and needs to be placed on a regular schedule.

South of the border in the United States, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston has a programme of digitisation for all its reel-to-reel recordings. They transfer the material onto R-DAT digital tape and then onto CD-R. All the versions are kept.

They report that they have no machine problems but are concerned about a series of wartime 78 rpm discs that are turning white. Advice is sought.

Yale University Library is doing very little digitisation work because they have yet to decide what format to copy their recordings to. The few digital copies being made are recorded on CD-R.

A specialist archive, the Archival Television Audio collection, preserves the soundtrack of television programmes. The recordings cover the period from 1946 to the late 1970s, when many programmes were live and video recording rare, if not impossible. The collection is based in Albertson in New York State. Although there is a great need to transfer the recordings, the funds available to this private collection will not cover the cost. At present, the four ¼-inch tape machines are in good condition but spare parts are becoming harder to find. The owner of the collection, Phil Gries, says 'Time is the enemy - and the challenge'.

The Siddha Yoga Dham of America Foundation (SYDA) in Fallsburg, New York State, is copying all its holdings for the period from 1962 to 1982 for preservation purposes. It is estimated that the work will take ten years to complete. The copies are made on both CD-R and ¼-inch analogue tape. At present, SYDA does not have trouble maintaining its machines, but is becoming concerned about the continuation of supplies of tape. It also has some concerns about the quality of the CD-R blanks on sale at present.

In Philadelphia, the Curtis Institute of Music is storing all its recordings off-site at a professional archive. The tapes are being transferred to new media at the depository.

The National Public Radio centre in Washington DC has digitised about seven years of its eighteen years of programme tapes. They have not added to the normal equipment but have increased its hours of use by employing an extra team of technicians to work through the night. The copies are recorded on to two CD-Rs - one is available for access and the other kept as a preservation master.

An IBM 3584 LTO storage device is being installed. It will form a third digitised copy when it is put to use. The CD-Rs will be used as the source of the 3584. At present, the centre's engineering staff are able to keep the equipment maintained.

In Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio Historical Society has been working on digitisation of their collection of still images. Some of the images can be seen at the Society's website:

At present they are able to play most of the media in the collection with the existing stock of equipment. Exceptions include audio cylinders, Dictaphone belts and wire recordings. The ability to maintain, repair and potentially replace equipment is a concern.

The most significant problem for the society is a shortage of staff to process the audio, film and video collections. Second to this is a lack of funds to migrate degrading media to new formats and to create access copies of recordings for use. Information that would be helpful to them includes information on how to identify and describe different types of audiovisual carriers, and methods of playing audiovisual carriers that would minimize damage.

The Perkins Library at Duke University, North Carolina foresees the need for some preservation copying in the future, but has no plans at present. On the other hand, the Mills Music Library at the University of Wisconsin in Madison has an ongoing programme to digitise decaying recordings for preservation purposes. Neither library has trouble maintaining the machines in good condition.

The Ethnomusicology Archive at the University of California in Los Angeles began copying decaying field recordings to new ¼-inch tape in 1998. Many of these copies are, however, beginning to shed oxide. For this reason, and general obsolescence of the analogue tape formats, the archive has begun a process of digitising its collections to 96kHz/24 bit Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) files, which are stored on Mitsui Gold data CD-Rs. An MP3 listening file is then created from the WAV file once it has been checked. The master CD-Rs are sent to a secure storage facility on the UCLA campus.

If the archive receives funding for development, the plan is to copy the CD-Rs and to record new files on a RAID array of hard drives. The MP3 listening files will be upgraded to MPEG-4. The plans also propose that at the end of each day two safety back-up copies should be made on Linear Tape-Open-2 (LTO-2) media. A CD-R would also be made of each new BWF file at the same time. As each collection is digitised, one set each of the LTO-2 tapes and CD-Rs is sent to the secure storage facility with the original recordings. As a further development, the archive hopes to move the digital files to a robotic, automated Mass Storage System at some time in the future.

In the Davidson Library at the Santa Barbara Campus of the University of California, they are converting their collections of unique analogue recordings to CD-R. They do not intend to make digital copies of commercially issued discs. They are digitising their collection of about 6000 cylinders with the intention of making the sounds accessible via the web.

The library has working machines for nearly all its formats, with the exception of early video formats. They are stockpiling sufficient open reel audio machines to copy all the tapes in the collection.

George Boston
IASA Technical Committee

Inspecting Tapes A Box Experience

The following facts are taken from a project I worked on between 2001 and 2003. The object of this paper is not to point to any record company in particular, but merely offers a case study of what could be found in a well-kept master tape archive.

In preparation for digitizing, I inspected and noted a number of facts regarding each tape. The archive I worked in is the result of recording activities by a number of Swedish record companies from 1954 to 1994. The structure of the Swedish record market has been such that only a few record companies have kept their own studio and mastering facilities, relying instead on independent companies for their technical needs. Many have employed the services of the big, independent studio Europafilm, begun in 1953 with the biggest recording studios and mastering facilities in northern Europe at the time, as well as pressings. The master tapes come from either unknown studios (37%) or Europafilm (27%), while no other studio has made more than 4% each of the rest. Actually, it has been possible to identify 126 studios for the remaining 36%, both in Sweden (21%) and elsewhere (15%).

This survey is based on an inspection of 4 352 master tapes. I have tried to assign a year of recording to each tape, which has not always been easy, and some guesswork is involved. I do believe, however, that I am not out by more than a year or two in extreme cases. Thus we get this distribution of tapes per year:

1954 7
1955 18
1956 37
1957 56
1958 75
1959 74
1960 91
1961 97
1962 99
1963 109
1964 104
1965 143
1966 138
1967 144
1968 129
1969 139
1970 152
1971 197
1972 181
1973 223
1974 185
1975 169
1976 196
1977 136
1978 167
1979 157
1980 151
1981 169
1982 166
1983 142
1984 117
1985 121
1986 77
1987 64
1988 34
1989 29
1990 27
1991 16
1992 11
1993 4
1994 1
Total 4352

As may be seen, the bulk of the tapes were recorded in the 1970's, tapering off at both ends. This is not to say that fewer tapes from, say, the 1980's were in the archive, but only that they were not as heavily represented in this digitizing effort. Bear this in mind as we continue.

One main reason for the inspection was to determine whether the tapes suffered from 'stickiness', i.e. the well known sticky-shed syndrome. Here's a table showing the number of sticky tapes

1973 1
1974 18
1975 59
1976 50
1977 50
1978 53
1979 72
1980 80
1981 107
1982 110
1983 91
1984 65
1985 44
1986 34
1987 43
1988 21
1989 20
Total 918

All these 918 tapes, representing more than 21% of all the tapes, were baked and replayed without difficulty. Looking closely at these tapes, we soon saw that they had one other thing in common: black back-coating. Actually, for the years 1980-1982, as many as four out of five black back-coat tapes were sticky (note that Europafilm hardly ever used black back-coated tape, preferring Agfa PER525 instead):

1972 0%
1973 1%
1974 18%
1975 51%
1976 43%
1977 62%
1978 60%
1979 74%
1980 81%
1981 79%
1982 81%
1983 76%
1984 57%
1985 35%
1986 29%
1987 70%
1988 70%
1989 72%
1990 0%

Many of the tapes in this archive were stored in boxes made by the tape manufacturers, and I believe it is safe to say that most of the time the tapes in the box actually are of the kind printed on the box. Assuming this, we see that the earliest 3M tapes, types 202 and 206, don't have problems, nor do Agfa's PEM468 (easy to identify because of lettering on the back-coat, and not included in the above table). The sticky tapes seem to come mainly from boxes labelled Ampex 406 and 456, 3M 226 and Agfa PEM469. This assumption is supported by the fact that the sticky residue looks different for all three brands. The Ampex residue is easily cured in the oven, whereas the 3M and Agfa require a considerably longer curing time. Agfa's residue is almost colorless, and 3M's is stickier than the others.

Another reason for the inspection was to determine the recording head configuration. Only 1/4" tapes have been included in this statistic, as 1/2" tapes are of uniform track widths. Considering the wide time span, many tapes were expected to be recorded monaurally, or stereo recorded with Studer's wide-track butterfly heads. These tapes would generate a fringing effect (bass enhancement) if played back on a normal, narrow two-track head. We had the option of choosing a different playback head configuration for each tape. The inspection machine was equipped with a special three-track head, and we compared the output levels of the middle track with the two outer. It could be the same, be lower, or non-existent, indicating full-track, butterfly, or two-track configuration. As it turned out, 23% of the tapes were full-track, 17% butterfly, and 59% ordinary two-track.

At the same time, it was important to determine which equalization correction curve had been used during recording. Most of the older tapes did not have any notes on EQ, mirroring uniform adoption of the NAB standard up to the early 1960's. We determined which curve to use by listening tests, switching between CCIR and NAB, and most often NAB would sound the best on these old tapes.

1954 0% 100%  
1955 0% 100%  
1956 8% 90%  
1957 7% 93%  
1958 4% 96%  
1959 5% 94% 0%
1960 6% 87% 6%
1961 5% 94% 1%
1962 4% 88% 8%
1963 6% 93% 1%
1964 15% 82% 2%
1965 30% 68% 0%
1966 31% 62% 1%
1967 28% 66% 6%
1968 32% 64% 2%
1969 62% 37% 0%
1970 73% 26%  
1971 64% 35%  
1972 67% 32%  
1973 54% 44%  
1974 49% 51%  
1975 66% 34%  
1976 72% 27%  
1977 59% 41%  
1978 54% 45%  
1979 61% 39%  
1980 67% 31%  
1981 41% 56%  
1982 35% 63%  
1983 28% 71%  
1984 30% 70%  
1985 51% 43%  
1986 25% 67%  
1987 51% 49%  
1988 40% 56%  
1989 44% 44%  
1990 9% 91%  
1991 29% 71%  
1992 100% 0%  
1993 75% 25%  
Total 43% 55% 1%

The butterfly heads were predominantly CCIR (67%), whereas the full-track tapes were predominantly NAB (84%). The two-track recordings were more evenly distributed, with 47% CCIR and 51% NAB. The remaining odd percentage, missing above, comes from 30 ips AES tapes and tapes with different configuration and/or EQ, spliced together.

Tommy Sjöberg
DCM, Sweden

The Vienna Summer School on Audio Preservation

The Vienna Summer School on Audio Preservation is arranged jointly by the Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Austrian Mediathek and will take place from 11-15 July 2005

Long-term preservation of audio documents is an important factor in safeguarding sources of cultural and scientific importance and keeping them available for research, cultural purposes, radio communication, and beyond. The worldwide holdings of audio recordings are currently estimated to be in the order of 100 million hours, most of them held on traditional analogue or on digital single carriers such as the compact disc (CD). All these carriers are inherently unstable, and subject to chemical and physical deterioration, which sooner or late will render them unplayable. An additional threat of considerable proportions is the dependence of audio carriers on dedicated, format-specific replay equipment, which, owing to the ever-increasing pace of technological advancement, leads to obsolescence of the appropriate reproduction devices. Consequently, audio archivists have pioneered in adopting a paradigm shift in document preservation. As any attempt to preserve the original documents in the long term would be in vain, attention must be given to preserving the content by subsequent digital (= lossless) migration from one carrier to the next. Analogue documents have first to be transferred to the digital domain. Meanwhile, this model has been extended to the preservation of video and so-called born-digital documents of various types.

Major broadcasting and national archives are now transferring their holdings into so-called Digital Mass Storage Systems, projects of considerable logistical and financial dimensions. However, many audio documents reflecting the cultural and linguistic diversity of humankind are held by small and medium-sized archives, as well as cultural and research institutions that cannot (yet) afford digitisation on a large scale. The Vienna Summer School aims to concentrate on problems of these smaller institutions, specifically those in Eastern Europe and developing countries.

The duration of the Summer School will be five days. It is to be held at the Phonogrammarchiv and the Austrian Mediathek; the tutors will be staff members of both institutions and the working language will be English. The total number of participants is limited to 20. In order to facilitate sufficient access to workstations and other equipment (hands-on), participants will be split into small groups.

The fee for the Summer School is €1000, and includes written materials as well as coffee and refreshments. The cost of accommodation and daily subsistence has to be borne by the participants. Depending on hotel category, a total of €100-150 per day, including accommodation, should be calculated. It is hoped that grants will be available from UNESCO and IASA.

For more details and preliminary registration please contact:

(Mrs) Li Huang
Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Liebiggasse 5
A-1010 Vienna, AUSTRIA
Phone: +43 1 4277 29601
Fax: +43 1 4277 9296

Australian 'Memory of the World': Ned Kelly is registered

The latest group of nine inscriptions in UNESCO's Australian National 'Memory of the World' register were announced recently at a ceremony at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. They included the surviving fragments of Australia's first narrative feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, a six-reel drama made in 1906, which are held at the National Film and Sound Archive (Screensound) in Canberra.

Edward (Ned) Kelly was a bushranger the Australian term for an itinerant outlaw, somewhat like Butch Cassidy or Jesse James whose gang robbed banks and, on one occasion, killed police. He was finally captured at the Siege of Glenrowan in 1880 when, guns blazing, he confronted a troop of police wearing a crude iron helmet and breastplate fashioned by a local blacksmith. He was later tried and executed in Melbourne.

He soon, however, became an iconic figure, representing the struggle between the poor and oppressed, and corrupt officialdom. The subject of an endless succession of plays, songs, films, books, comics and television programs to say nothing of the now classic series of paintings by Sir Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly has long since become part of the Australian psyche. To be called 'as game as Ned Kelly' is to be given a great compliment about one's courage.

No copy of the complete film, running well over an hour, is known to exist. Two fragments of print and one of original negative totalling around nine minutes as well as the original program booklet have so far come to light. The roll of original negative was found over 20 years ago by a Melbourne school principal who could have demanded a considerable sum for it but instead drove to Canberra to donate it to the archive.

To minimize expense, the producers of the 1906 film borrowed Kelly's armour from the Victorian Police, who had kept it as a memento. The actor playing Kelly wore it in the climactic scenes (pieces of which survive). In later years, police were less obliging to film producers and began banning films about Kelly and other bushrangers (yes, they had that power!). In 1995, when Australian post office officials were preparing a stamp series to commemorate the centenary of cinema, they realized that since the helmet obscured the actor's face a still of the armour-clad Kelly from the 1906 film could not only celebrate the film itself, but finally get Ned Kelly onto a stamp, without actually contravening a law which forbids convicted murderers being shown on postage stamps. 

The UNESCO 'Memory of the World' programme has national registers of documentary heritage, as well as the better known international register. If you want to visit these go to: to find the Australian register for the International register

If you'd like to find out more much more about Ned Kelly, do a web search and visit sites like

Ray Edmondson
Archive Associates Pty Ltd

The World's First Big Hit: The Preacher and the Bear

In co-operation with Ringve Museum the National Library of Norway has preserved a collection of wax cylinders. These rolls include some of the best selling recordings of the early 1900s, which were popular music from the early days of the American record industry, Tin Pan Alley. Undoubtedly, these recordings have influenced the Broadway musicals we know today.

What kind of music did the Americans listen to by the turn of the century? Many people listened to folk music or classical music from Europe. However, with the rise of music publishing, including sheet music, wax cylinders and gramophone recordings, the popular music became the dominant style at least when it comes to sales figures. In those days pop music was exemplified by ragtime, (Sousa) marches, ballads and so-called coon songs.

Coon was American slang for nigger. These songs are important historical documents telling stories about the white man's attitude to the Negroes (African Americans). From the 1830s on, the coon songs illustrate a horrifying racism through music. One of the first hit songs was '(Jump) Jim Crow', performed by Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) in 1828. Most states in the South passed anti-African-American legislation, known as the Jim Crow laws. The segregation included, for instance, separate seating on public transport. (Not until 1964 when President Lyndon B Johnson persuaded Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act, did racial discrimination become illegal.) Numerous lyrics of coon songs are unsuitable for print, which also is the case with regard to some of today's rap music. I assume the coon tradition is not well known, which probably has to do with the following generations' wish to hide this part of American history.

Arthur Collins (1864-1933) was the first vocal artist to have a hit based on sales figures, in 1905 (cylinders and discs). He probably sold between one and two million copies of The Preacher and the Bear, written by George Fairman (usually mistakenly credited to Joe Arzonia). Collins was the eldest of ten children and he married Irish-born singer Anna Leah Connolly (1867-1949). Just before the new century, Collins received an invitation from Edison's National Phonograph Company to make a trial recording, and several recordings were made both on Edison and other record labels.

The Preacher and the Bear is a comic song in a way, expressed by Collins's imitation of black vocal style and speech. The Edison cylinder belonging to Ringve Museum was recorded in May 1905, which is probably the second take that was made, following the first release in April that year. I don't think there are many surviving copies in the world today in such a good condition as this one. It is worth noting that the word 'coon' was used in reference to the preacher in the original version. (Later on 'coon' was replaced by 'preacher' in the lyrics.)

A preacher went out a-huntin'
'Twas on one Sunday morn
I thought it was against his religion
But he took his gun along
He shot himself some very fine quail
And one big frizzly hare
And on his way returning home
He met a great big grizzly bear
Well, the bear marched out in the middle of the road
And he waltzed to the coon, you see
The coon got so excited
That he climbed a persimmon tree
The bear sat down upon the ground
And the coon climb'd out on a limb
He cast his eyes to the Lord in the sky
And these words said to Him:
Oh Lord, didn't you deliver Daniel from the lion's den?
Also delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
Three Hebrew chillun from the fiery furnace?
So the Good Book do declare
Now Lord, if you can't help me
For goodness sakes, don't you help that bear!

During the 20th century several versions of The Preacher and the Bear were recorded and published, among others by Sousa's Band (1906), Riley Puckett (1925 and 1939), John McGhee (1927), Honeyboy and Sassafrass (1930), The Prairie Ramblers (1936), The Golden Gate Quartet (1937), and by the country singer Jerry Reed, who had a hit in 1970 (16th position on Bilboard).

Trond Valberg
The National Library of Norway

AMIA Conference

The annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) took place this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the second week of November. There was a rich programme, including choices between parallel paper sessions and specialist committee meetings. I attended sessions on the impact of on-line auctions on the acquisitions business of archives, the Library of Congress' National Audiovisual Conservation Centre capital construction project, and the challenges of building national collections of moving image material in difficult conditions in the Central American and Caribbean regions. I was a guest of the AMIA Education Committee, where I presented the CCAAA planning matrix for professional training of audiovisual archivists. It was good to meet a number of IASA members and supporters there, including Maureen Webster-Prince, Ted Sheldon and Ray Edmondson, and to enjoy a warm welcome from AMIA President Milt Shefter, and Managing Director Janice Simpson. Older readers of the Bulletin may remember my report on the SEAPAVAA conference in Laos, which included a note about the charming local bovine fauna. It is a matter of regret that on this later occasion I was not in Minnesota long enough to get out of town and visit the wolf population, which has been spreading throughout the state from the north-eastern forest since it was afforded Federal protection in the 1960s. Next year AMIA will hold their conference in Anchorage, Alaska.

Crispin Jewitt
British Library Sound Archive

Recorded Music in the Nordic Countries

Suomen äänitearkisto (Finnish Institute of Recorded Sound) and Statens ljud- och bildarkiv (Swedish National Archive for Recorded Sound and Moving Images, SLBA) will jointly organise a seminar on the record industry in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland during the 78 rpm period, c 1899-1955. The purpose of the seminar is to present an overview of current research. It is to be held on 12 and13 February 2005 at SLBA, Karlavägen 98, Stockholm, and will be hosted in both Swedish and English.

Participants already invited include collectors, researchers and representatives of sound archives. They will present surveys on national discographies and databases of 78 rpm records, company histories, technological history, and digitisation and reissue projects. There will also be a paper on cataloguing of cylinder recordings. A preliminary programme is available on request. The organisers invite researchers to present brief papers (max 30 minutes) related to the subject of the seminar. Observers are also welcome, but prior registration is necessary, because space is limited. There is no participation fee. Registered participants will receive a detailed programme before the end of 2004.

For more information, contact:

Pekka Gronow
Suomen äänitearkisto
phone +35840 5938106


Björn Englund
phone +468 783 3714 or 783 3701

IASA-Nordic Branch - The Riga Seminar

A joint initiative between the IASA Nordic Branch and the Canadian and Baltic Working Group resulted in The Riga Seminar - An international seminar of archival and applied science in the media. The event was hosted by the Latvian Television LTV, October 1 to 3, and was attended by over 90 delegates.

Nordic and Canadian archival experts were invited to work together with their Baltic colleagues in this project with the intent to share expertise, knowledge and develop partnerships. Presentations and numerous workshops in parallel offered a full two days saturated with archival topics of every kind, and the third day was dedicated to visiting archival institutions. This makes it impossible to give due credit to all participants. Visit the seminar's site to find the full programme and information on the presenters and their papers:

A few highlights were:

Bjarne Grevsgard from the Norwegian Broadcast (NRK) held the keynote speech, where he addressed the archivist's growing mission of making journalists, producers and managers aware of the asset value of a digitally available archive with good metadata. Grevsgard also held a workshop on the NRK's co-operation with the Norwegian National Library for the digitisation of their radio archives.

The newly released IASA-publication "Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects" was brandished in its green glory, and presented by Jacqueline von Arb from the Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound.

Lasse Nilsson enlightened us on several aspects of audiovisual archiving and held a workshop on the Picture Archive of Swedish Television. Sven Allerstrand, Swedish National Archive of Recorded Sound and Moving Images, talked about the legal deposit of AV-material. Richard Billeau, Media-Matters Europe, presented an effective automated migration solution. The Norwegian Film Institute launched their digital distribution of Norwegian films on the Internet, and Jan Erik Holst filled us in on the significance of preservation. Tedd Urnes, from the NRK, presided over a workshop on content description of film and television programmes.

On the second afternoon, Andris Kesteris from the Library and Archives Canada chaired a series of panel discussion with representatives from the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Radio and Television. The situation in the Baltic region already encompasses international co-operations, and future plans were proudly presented but there are still very real and serious limitations, and those were courageously exposed.

These limitations, however, will possibly be countered and alleviated with the seed of an idea that found a fertile ground among participants motivated by the strength found in international co-operation. To step outside of the limitations of each of our little archival worlds, and be part of the creation of something bigger than ourselves, may be a viable solution.

Steps have been taken towards the creation of a Baltic co-operation and the launch of the Pan Baltic Coalition for Preservation (of Audiovisual Cultural Heritage) is imminent.

Jacqueline von Arb
Dep. Coordinator IASA Nordic Branch
Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound

Sites and Sounds

The Accra based music NGO - the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation (BAPMAF ) now has its own website (in addition to the previous one

The new website is

John Collins

Calendar of Events

10-14 March ARSC-SAM Conference Cleveland, Ohio
18-24 April FIAF-SEAPAVAA Joint Congress Hanoi, Vietnam
24-26 June Joint Technical Symposium 2004 Toronto, Canada
8 13 August IAML-IASA joint Annual Conference Oslo, Norway
23 28 August ICA Annual Conference Vienna
October FIAT/IFTA Annual Conference Paris
9 13November AMIA Conference Minneapolis, U.S.
29 March -2 April ARSC annual conference Austin, USA
May SEAPAVAA 9th Annual Conference & General Assembly Brunei
28-31 May 118th AES Convention Barcelona, Spain
3-12 June 61st FIAF Congress Ljubljana, Slovenia
25-29 July Soundscapes: Reflections on Caribbean Oral and Aural Traditions Cave Hill, Barbados
14-18 August 71st IFLA General Conference and Council Oslo, Norway
11-15 September IASA Annual Conference Barcelona, Spain
September/October FIAT Conference & General Assembly New York, USA
7-10 October 119th AES Convention New York, USA
30 November - 3 December AMIA annual conference Austin, USA
April 62nd FIAF Congress Sao Paulo, Brazil
14-18 August 72th IFLA General Conference and Council Seoul, Republic of Korea
September IASA Annual Conference Mexico City, Mexico
October AMIA annual conference Anchorage, USA
April 63rd FIAF Congress Tokyo, Japan
August 73th IFLA General Conference and Council Durban, South Africa
August XVIth International Congress on Archives Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
August 74th IFLA General Conference and Council Québec, Canada
September IASA annual conference Sydney, Australia


This Information Bulletin was compiled by:

The Editor - Ilse Assmann,
SABC, PO Box 931, 2006, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa,
Tel: 27 (0)11 714 4041, Fax: 27 (0)11 714 4419, Email:

Language editor: Dorothy van Tonder, SABC
Printed and produced in South Africa by Heypenni Gold

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