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Series III: Audio Recordings of Lectures, 1970-1990


Scope and Contents

The majority of the Black Experience in the Arts collection consists of reel-to-reel audio tape recordings of classroom lectures. Series III Audio Recordings of Lectures, 1970-1990 contains approximately 326 reel to reel audio tapes and 26 audio cassettes (3 are undated). 162 guest speakers were recorded and in several instances, there are multiple presentations by these visiting lecturers. The lectures were recorded by the University of Connecticut's Media Center and a copy of the tapes was sent to the university's Homer Babbidge Library as a study aid so students could review them in preparation for exams. The recordings feature an array of writers, musicians, composers, and other talented artists speaking directly to UConn undergraduates about the impact made by black performers.

The series lacks tapes from every presentation during the period. Only 1 tape exists for 1986 and none for 1987 through the 1989 spring semester. It is unknown why the course instructors switched from reel-to-reel tapes to audio cassettes. Reel-to-reel recording of lectures was used until 1988 and it is unclear whether the introduction of audio cassettes was meant to replace the long-standing practice of using reel-to-reel tapes to record lectures.

The tapes run the length of the 90 minute course. On occasion, a second tape was required to capture the speaker's entire presentation. Besides speaking, musicians, singers, poets, and playwrights often performed pieces of their work. The course met in a recital hall (von der Mehden Hall) because the artists were asked to demonstrate their art. The hall featured a piano, a pull-down screen at the back of the stage for visual slide presentations, audio equipment for lecturers, and a sound booth for recording course lectures.

Despite the large number of recordings, audio tapes do not exist for every speaker who visited the class. Some presenters delivered formal lectures, while others spoke in a more extemporaneous fashion. The audio levels of these recordings may be uneven - some recordings are audible at a standard volume setting, while the volume on others must be raised to hear the speaker clearly.


  • Creation: 1970-1990

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.


From the Collection: 14 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Copies

The audio recordings in this series have been digitized and are available in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository. Direct links are available from the descriptions listed. Note: The recordings were created to document the speakers and performers brought to campus to share their experiences and as such contain long pauses, missing audio due to equipment malfunction or as the tape was turned to record on the B side, background noises, indistinguishable voices and uneven sound quality. As part of the migration process, we have attempted to correct some of these issues but the listener may have to adjust the volume during playback.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US