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Collection American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I

From War To Normalcy: An Introduction to the Nation's Forum Collection

The Nation's Forum Collection of sound recordings preserves the voices of American leaders from the start of the twentieth century. The idea originated with St. Louis attorney and promoter of the arts Guy Golterman after a visit to the Library of Congress. He later commented: "As I looked at the facsimile of Washington's farewell and the original of Lincoln's Gettysburg address, I profoundly wished that the vitality of their voices could have been preserved."

Guy Golterman (1879-1967), Photographer unknown. Photograph undated. Courtesy of Edward Golterman.

Golterman, working with the State Department's Committee on Public Information and Columbia Graphophone Company, produced and distributed recordings of such prominent Americans as General John J. Pershing, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. His recordings succeeded in preserving more than the voices of notable Americans. They also preserved important commentary on two major issues of 1918-1920: World War I and the presidential election of 1920.

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