The Special Collections Division holds a surprisingly wide array of resources about local radio stations and radio culture.
Materials include histories of radio stations, promotional and advertising materials, radio scripts, materials relating to popular radio performers, and more. What follows below is just a sampling of some of the materials we have. When following the links to look at information in the catalog, be sure to check out the various “drop-down” tabs underneath the main listing to find out more details about these materials.
This collection provides basic information about a number of pre-1950 Tennessee radio stations and general radio broadcasting history, with emphasis on the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the documents are summaries of individual radio station histories, mostly provided by the Broadcast Pro-file company of Hollywood, Calif.. Other items include research materials compiled by Jackson about early radio broadcasting, especially legislation and regulation; radio station WSM; John H. "Jack" DeWitt; Ewin L. Davis; and James D. Vaughn.
Nearly 80 posters featuring black-and-white photographs of ABC Network radio personalities, from the 1930s to the 1960s, designed to advertise programs on WSIX. Posters like this were often framed and hung in radio station lobbies so that visitors could see the network stars they normally only heard. Some of the celebrities featured include Fran Allison, Lionel Barrymore, Richard Crenna, Alan Ladd, Adolphe Menjou, Robert Montgomery, and Drew Pearson. Famous shows advertised include Abbott and Costello, The Breakfast Club, Dr. Kildare, The Original Amateur Hour, and The Lawrence Welk Show.
A small quantity of materials concerning radio, television, and broadcasting history in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Stations and subjects documented in the collection include: Two radio-related magazines published in Nashville dating from the 1930s, including the premier issue of Rural Radio; public access television (1985); WLAC "Radio at War" booklet (ca. 1943); a flyer to "Save WRVU" (ca. 2011); and a folder of information marking the fiftieth anniversary of WSM, entitled, "The WSM Family," which primarily focuses on WSM-TV, though it provides some background information about its predecessor, WSM radio.
Print, photos, manuscript and audio materials documenting the career of Nashville's big band maestro Francis Craig (1900-1966)--composer, pianist, recording star and long-time Hermitage Hotel bandleader. Craig was featured on WSM's inaugural broadcast on October 5, 1925, and then in regular broadcasts from the Hermitage Hotel for over 20 years.
These materials reflect the popularity of the nationally broadcast comedy Amos ‘n’ Andy, and appear to be a local version of that show, debuting just a year after the national program. Widely condemned today as racist, Amos ‘n’ Andy was one of the most popular comedies of its time. Howard wrote scripts for two similar local programs, which aired on WLAC in 1929 and 1930.
Three radio scripts from the 1940s about Andrew Jackson, broadcast on the program, Cavalcade of America, sponsored by the DuPont Manufacturing Company. "The Gorgeous Hussy," starring Paulette Goddard and based upon a book of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams, tells about the so-called "Eaton Affair" (or "Petticoat Affair"). "The Hickory Tree," written by Henry Walsh, stars Agnes Moorehead as Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, mother of the president. During the Revolutionary War, she goes to a nearby hospital to nurse soldiers. In her absence, Andrew and his brother, who are teenagers, take up arms against the British and are taken prisoner. "Home to the Hermitage," based upon a book of the same name by Nashville author Alfred Leland Crabb, and adapted by Peter Ruric and Virginia Radcliffe, stars Walter Pidgeon and Fay Bainter. This program tells about the lives of Andrew and Rachel Jackson at their home near Nashville.
Even more materials than those listed here are available for perusal in the Special Collections Division. Appointments are recommended for use of manuscripts collections, like those above. Contact us at 615-862-5782 or come visit to learn more!