Jeffrey C. Kasch Foundation Research Trip: Samantha Silver

Thanks to the generous support of the Kasch Foundation, I was able to spend my summer in Washington, D.C., to visit sound recording archives at the Library of Congress. After finishing my American Studies research seminar as a master’s student in spring 2018, I wanted to continue working on my project, which funding from the Kasch Foundation allowed me to do. While the project had begun as a question about salacious comedy on early radio and censorship, I quickly became fascinated in the NBC Radio archive by this one particular radio program, the Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour. The program was like the American Idol of its day, a talent competition show for all sorts of “amateur” acts. The Library of Congress Recorded Sound Research Center holds the original recordings of this program from the early 1930s. Even more exciting were the 7,000 contestant files, which contain audition forms, correspondence of contestants begging to be put on the air and various other items. Listening to the program itself required going to the Library of Congress archive and doing my own transcriptions in addition to digging for the contestant files. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend time on this and look forward to developing the project further.