Amazing how much can change in 100 years. In March of 1909, the stereograph above shows African Americans driving the carriage that carried President and Mrs. Taft from the Capitol to lead the inauguration parade to the White House. On January 20th of 2009, Barack Obama will be the guest of honor. The American Folklife Center‘s Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project aims to collect recordings, transcriptions and ephemera of speeches addressing the significance of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American president.
It is expected that such sermons and orations will be delivered at churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship, as well as before humanist congregations and other secular gatherings. The American Folklife Center is seeking as wide a representation of orations as possible.
The Inauguration 2009 project is modeled after prior Library of Congress collection projects. Two great examples of these earlier projects are:
- “Man-on-the-Street” Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor – features audio recordings of the reactions of than 200 people to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
- September 11, 2001, Documentary Project – includes 200 audio recordings collected between September 13, 2001 and February 13, 2002 in cities across the United States
If you want to organize a local recording, here are the basics:
- Recording must be made between Friday, January 16th and Sunday, January 25th, 2009 and postmarked by February 27, 2009.
- The project website provides the required Participant Release Form for speakers, photographers and those making the recordings.
- The project is accepting audio recordings, video recordings, and written texts of sermons (see their detailed specifications page for information about accepted formats). Also accepted will be accompanying ephemera such as photographs and printed programs.
- If you are sending materials to the Library of Congress, they encourage you to use FedEx, UPS, or DHL because of the danger of damage due to security screening done to USPS packages.
If you want to get a taste of other recordings held by the Library of Congress, you can spend some time browsing the fantastic list of Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture Containing Sermons and Orations provided on the project site.
So spread the word. Honor the Library of Congress’s goals by helping this collection include the perspectives of as many communities as possible. Your local religious or secular leader could have their point of view preserved as part of a snapshot of our country’s response to the Inauguration of 2009. While they hope for audio and video recordings, they are also accepting text transcriptions – so this doesn’t have to be a high tech endeavor. That said, perhaps this is the inspiration you have been waiting for to learn how to make an audio or video recording!