Michigan State University

About the G. Robert Vincent Voice Library

The Vincent Voice Library is a collection of primary source sound material, found mainly in speech, interview, lecture and performance formats. It is the largest academic voice library in the United States and is part of the Michigan State University Libraries.

The collection is stored primarily on reels of magnetic recording tape. Items represent, in most cases, a migration from other recording formats, off-air broadcasts, or Voice Library original recordings. New items are mastered digitally and a retrospective digital re-mastering of existing analog recordings is underway. About 15,000 digital sound files have been created.

Voice recordings are really the product of the Twentieth Century and very few exist which were made prior to 1900. Sound was distributed more widely with the coming of radio in the 1920’s and more signals meant the likelihood of more things being recorded. The Voice Library collection begins to reflect the greater prevailing culture beginning in the 1930’s and 1940’s, with the coming of FDR.

Strong areas of collection emphasis include, American and foreign politics and government, labor history, show business and media history, academic lectures, sports, popular culture, literature and the arts and Michigan State University history.

Collections highlights include these:

  • Rare Edison recordings from the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century, including the voices of Sarah Bernhard, Buffalo Bill Cody, Gladstone, Tennyson, and Queen Victoria.
  • Voices of the American Presidents since Benjamin Harrison, including speeches, interviews and press conferences.
  • A large holding of World War II actualities, featuring Nazi propaganda, war news from the major networks, and the speeches of Churchill, Stalin and FDR.
  • A broad representation of the arts in America and abroad, with the voices of Barrymore, Picasso, John Lennon, Brando, Fanny Brice, Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, George Bernard Shaw, Salvadore Dali, T.S. Eliot and others.
  • A view of the life and culture of Michigan State University, including speeches of the University Presidents and such visitors to campus as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Bill Clinton.