Tony Schwartz was considered a master of the electronic media. He was a renowned New York City sound documentarian, producer, author and teacher. He also changed the face of radio and television advertising by creating socially conscious campaigns such as the nation's first anti-smoking ad, which led the tobacco industry to stop advertising on television and radio. Those and other materials are part of the vast archives of sound recordings and moving images created and collected by Schwartz and just purchased by the Library of Congress.
The Tony Schwartz Collection will be housed at the Library's new Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., under the purview of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. (See story on page 147.) A complete compilation of Schwartz's work from 1947 through 1999, the collection parallels the growth of modern audio technology and the broadcast industry by documenting American life and culture during the latter half of the 20th century.
"The collection is a treasure trove of unpublished audio-visual material to be explored and discovered by researchers, scholars and patrons," said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. "By acquiring and preserving this collection for the American people, the Library of Congress will serve generations of historians, archivists, documentary producers and the general public who seek to experience the voices, sounds and images of post-war America."
Schwartz's life-long interest in people, sound, music and events led him to record urban folklore and soundscapes in his New York City neighborhood and to collect similar recordings from other folklorists and collectors around the world. He adopted audio-tape technology when it was in its infancy in the late 1940s; over the next 55 years, he assembled a vast collection of audio-visual materials.
Later in his life, Schwartz became a sought-after media consultant. He taught and lectured on the use of media in communications, advertising and product placement, and he advocated the grassroots use of media for issue-oriented and public service campaigns. His nationwide anti-smoking ad campaign is considered one of the most successful examples of his work in this area, although he probably is most famous for creating and producing the so-called "Daisy" television spot for Lyndon Johnson's presidential campaign, which suggested the danger of nuclear war if Barry Goldwater were elected.
Among the notable elements of the Tony Schwartz Collection are:
- some 30,000 folk songs, poems, conversations and stories from his New York City neighborhood and 46 countries around the world;
- recordings of his own radio program, which he produced for 27 years on New York City radio stations WBAI and WNYC;
- political campaign ads for radio and television; and
- recordings and videos of more than 15,000 radio and television ads for commercial products and services.