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Cutting-Edge Technology Helps Lilly Library Digitize Original 'War Of The Worlds' Recording
Updated October 26, 2017 7:36 AM
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Erika Dowell shows one of the Orson Welles lacquer discs to a student at the Lilly Library. Photo courtesy of IU Libraries
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Orson Welles recording one of his broadcasts. Photo courtesy of IU Libraries

(BLOOMINGTON) - Indiana University's Lilly Library digitized the original Orson Welles recording of 'War of the Worlds' and you'll able to hear it. The discs are just a small part of the IU Lilly Library's extensive Orson Welles collections.

Bethany Nolan, of IU News reports, the World War II-era lacquer glass discs are just a small part of the IU Lilly Library's extensive Orson Welles collections.

With the assistance of a $25,000 grant from the National Recording Preservation Foundation and help from the university's Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, IU Libraries is preserving many of its rare, original recordings of Welles' radio productions, including "Mercury Theatre on the Air."

Welles' live radio series debuted in 1938. The most famous is "War of the Worlds" - a broadcast that purportedly incited mass panic among listeners, who believed the adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel about an alien invasion was actually happening.

"These materials are treasures of great interest to scholars, students and the general public," said Erika Dowell, associate director and curator of modern books and magazines at the Lilly Library. "There are more than 20,000 items held at the Lilly Library that pertain to Welles' activities on stage, in radio and on film, as well as his personal and political life."

The Lilly's copy of "War of the Worlds," as well as the other broadcasts, are Welles' personal copies, Feaster added.

IU Libraries' Lilly Library will celebrate the launch of its web project, "Orson Welles on the Air," at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 in the Moving Image Archive screening room on the ground floor of Wells Library.

Additional information about the project, including streaming access to the newly digitized sound recordings, is scheduled to be available at orsonwelles.indiana.edu starting Thursday, Oct. 26.



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