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Indiana School of the Sky

Production began in 1947 of the Indiana School of the Sky, a series of educational radio dramas broadcast for elementary, junior high, and high school students in Indiana and neighboring states. In 1953, the International Broadcasting Union proclaimed this series “one of the most valuable contributions of the American radio in the cultural field,” and historian Thomas D. Clark has characterized it as the university’s greatest public service to that point in its history.

MDPI has recently digitized sound recordings of Indiana School of the Sky, which you can listen to now through Media Collections Online.

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Edward S. Curtis collection

In 1906, Edward S. Curtis received funding from J.P. Morgan to photograph what remained of traditional Native American life. Over the next thirty years, Curtis captured the precolonial culture of tribes that included leaders such as Geronimo, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, and Medicine Crow.

Curtis and his crew used wax cylinders to collect more than 10,000 recordings of language, music, and tribal lore and histories of 80-plus tribes, including the Haida people. Of Curtis' wax cylinders, only 276 are known to survive. All are held by the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University.

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The Orson Welles materials

Orson Welles is regarded as one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. Known most for his 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds and film Citizen Kane, Welles acted and directed on stage, radio, film, and television, made numerous recordings, and authored plays, film scripts, and a newspaper column.

The Lilly Library at Indiana University is home to the Orson Welles materials—thousands of one-of-a-kind audio and film recordings, images, and correspondence that comprise numerous collections. The Lilly's Welles holdings feature 600 lacquer discs of Mercury Theatre radio performances and rehearsals.

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The Afro-American in Indiana

The radio series, The Afro-American in Indiana, ran from 1971 to 1983 to promote black history to a broad audience. The weekly half-hour radio program was broadcast over Indianapolis public school station WIAN-FM, and focused on the local experiences of African Americans, reaching back to the beginnings of statehood.

The broadcast masters, and likely the only extant recordings, of these programs were stored at Martin University in Indianapolis and later donated to IU’s Archives of African American Music and Culture. MDPI digitized the open-reel tapes in the summer of 2017, and you can listen to them now through Media Collections Online.

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