PORTLAND – Decades-old tapes of campus speeches at Portland State University were recently uncovered by archivists, unveiling some fascinating speeches by pivotal figures in US history including Robert F. Kennedy, Allan Ginsberg and Toni Morrison.
The speeches, recorded during the 1950s through ‘70s, had been shipped to a warehouse as technology changed.
Christine Paschild, PSU’s university archivist, said she was wandering around the warehouse one day and "noticed a bunch of cardboard boxes labeled ‘reel-to-reel.’”
What Paschild found was an incredible collection of speeches, including Oregon senator Wayne Morse predicting devastating casualties from the Vietnam war, Nobel prize-winner Linus Pauling warning of birth defects from nuclear testing, and novelist Toni Morrison speaking on racism.
The tapes also include then-presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy speaking at PSU about 10 weeks before his assassination. During his speech, he even encouraged students to skip school for the week.
“Just remember when you’re deciding who to vote for, it was Kennedy who got you out of class,” Kennedy said.
Some of the tapes were stuck together, but most were nearly flawless and “sound as clear as the day they were recorded,” said PSU spokesman Scott Gallagher.
PSU converted 275 hours of tape recordings to digital format, thanks in part to a $10,000 grant.
All of the recordings can now be found here.