Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This TV documentary special chronicles the combined efforts of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Library of Congrees to preserve some 8,000 rare and ofttimes one-of-a-kind records of vintage American music and eyewitness interviews. Subject matter of the records chosen for posterity range from the reminiscences of antebellum slaves, to interviews with Pearl Harbor survivors, to original music tracks by the likes of Woody Guthrie and B.B. King. In addition to offering a tantalizing cross section of these precious recordings (many of which date back to the era of the Edison wax cylinders), the program details the various technologies used in the preservation process and the method of selection that determines which recordings are to be saved -- and which are to be regretfully discarded due to lack of space and funding.