National Press Club

Library of Congress makes available past NPC luncheon recordings

October 18, 2016 | By Gil Klein |

Fidel Castro speaking at the Club in 1959.

Fidel Castro speaking at the Club in 1959.

Beginning today, recordings of some of the most historic National Press Club luncheons will become available to the public in a new Library of Congress web presentation called, "Food for Thought: Presidents, Prime Ministers, and other National Press Club luncheon speakers, 1954-1989."

The Club donated about 2,000 audio recordings of luncheon speakers to the Library as a way to make sure they would be preserved. Since 1989, the Club developed a professional archive that maintains all of the more recent recordings, both audio and video.

But until today, getting access to the recordings stored at the Library was difficult. Now the Library has selected what it considers the 26 most significant speakers whose addresses have not been heard in their entirety since they were given at the Club.

Among them are Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Menachem Begin, Leonard Bernstein, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, Gerald Ford, Audrey Hepburn, Nikita Khrushchev, Edward R. Murrow, Ronald Reagan, Anwar Sadat, Margaret Thatcher and Harry Truman.

The selected speeches will be accompanied with essays that put them in their historical context around topics discussed by the speakers.

"In recognition of the historical importance of the luncheon talks, the Library of Congress has undertaken to digitize the complete National Press Club collection of recordings," said Eugene DeAnna, head of the Library’s Recorded Sound Section.

Researchers visiting the Recorded Sound Research Center can listen to any of the nearly speeches, he said.

Those available online have "great potential for use in the classroom because audio has the ability to convey experience and ideas more powerfully than the written word," he said. "It can grab a student’s due to its power to establish an experiential connection between the listener and speaker."