Monday, October 12, 2009

Clements on the Air: 1949 Radio Show Featured Dramatizations of Library Materials

Did you know the Clements Library had a radio program in 1949? "Treasures Off the Shelf" was a 13-episode show on the Michigan radio station WUOM that featured dramatizations of materials from the collection. The subjects of the episodes were:
  1. Columbus returns to Spain & reports to the King and Queen
  2. Benedict Arnold offers West Point to the British
  3. Washington plans to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown
  4. Invasion from the north! General Burgoyne at Saratoga
  5. Sebastian Cabot in England
  6. Captain Thomas Morris prevents a second Pontiac War
  7. The Declaration of Independence is delivered to George III
  8. The siege of Fort Detroit, 1763
  9. Valley Forge, winter of 1777-78
  10. Battle of Quebec & death of General Wolfe
  11. The preliminaries at Yorktown
  12. Thomas Paine and the Battle for Trenton
  13. The surrender at Yorktown
Each episode focused on a document or book from the Clements Library and recreated the historical events surrounding it. The scripts were written by William Bender of WUOM, in cooperation with Clements Library staff, and read by actors recruited from the University of Michigan campus. Each Thursday evening the shows were recorded in front of audiences at the WUOM studios.

Highlights of the transcripts include this imagined conversation between William L. Clements and a book dealer:

Clements: Is that what I think it is?

Quaritch: The “Columbus Letter.” Printed in 1493 by Stevan Plaanck.

Clements: I am definitely interested.

Quaritch: Splendid. I have it right over here.
The transcripts and other materials from this radio show have been archived by the Bentley Historical Library in the records of the WUOM radio station. The collection includes a sound recording of episode 8, "The Long Siege," based on the diary of Jehu Hay.

No recordings of the other episodes are known to have survived. In 1950, tape copies were distributed to schools by the Audio-Visual Education Center at the University of Michigan. If you have any information about their whereabouts, please leave a comment on this post to let us know.

Citation: WUOM Records, 1914-1982, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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