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Guide to the Roy Pryor Collection ARS.0020
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Source
  • Sponsor
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Related Collections
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Roy Pryor Collection
    Dates: Bulk, 1940-1942
    Dates: 1937-1949
    Collection number: ARS.0020
    Creator: > Pryor, Roy
    Collection size: 16 boxes: approx. 1000 12" and 16" instantaneous discs
    Repository: Archive of Recorded Sound
    Abstract: The Roy Pryor Collection consists of off-air recordings of local and network radio in Menlo Park, California between 1937 and 1949. Pryor used a home recording machine to make aluminum and lacquer discs of broadcasts, mostly capturing war-related news and commentary.
    Language of Material: English


    Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for assistance.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with repository. Publication and reproduction rights reside with the creators or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Head Librarian of the Archive of Recorded Sound.

    Preferred Citation

    Roy Pryor Collection, ARS-0020. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    The Roy Pryor Collection was donated to the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound by Roy Pryor.


    This finding aid was produced with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

    Scope and Contents

    Roy Pryor ('21, MA '24) was a hobbyist who, from March 1937 to November 1949, recorded radio broadcasts from local stations onto nearly one thousand aluminum and lacquer instantaneous discs. During World War II, he and his family made a special point of trying to capture programs related to the conflict in Europe and the Pacific. From Hitler speeches on KGO in 1938 to Japan signing its surrender on KPO in 1945, these recordings encompass the war years in incredible detail, and depict war-time attitudes toward local and world politics, the economy, and social issues. As a teacher and dean of the Menlo School and Junior College, he used these audio documents in class and made them available to other educational institutions.
    The collection contains a wide range of subject material taken directly from local and network radio programs on KGO, KPO, KSFO, KNBC, KQW, KFBK, and KFRC, providing an aural snapshot of day-to-day life at the time. There are a few entertainment programs (including the Standard Symphony Hour and Bell Telephone Hour) and sportscasts in the collection, as well as some Stanford-related content, but the majority of recordings feature news and commentary by announcers Raymond Gram Swing, H. V. Kaltenborn, Fulton Lewis, Jr., Walter Winchell, Dorothy Thompson, Gabriel Heatter, Wythe Williams, and Upton Close. Other programs featured in the collection are American Education Forum, University of Chicago Round Table, University Explorer, Over Our Coffee Cups, America's Town Meeting of the Air, Freedom's People, Menlo Nuggets, and Unlimited Horizons. There is extensive coverage of political campaigns and conventions, and many speeches by President Roosevelt.
    The discs, which play at 33 1/3 and 78 rpm, are both single and double-sided, and are made of aluminum or lacquer with cardboard, glass and metal cores. Many programs span multiple discs. The fact that different programs from different dates are on the same disc (and that the Hoover Institution shares some of the same programs) suggests the possibility that some are copies. A few relevant clippings, transcripts, bulletins, etc. are filed with the discs. Pryor maintained excellent recording logs, noting broadcast times, equipment used, and synopses of newscasts. The collection has been described at the item level in a searchable Filemaker database, accessible here. 


    Discs are in approximate chronological order. All programs were numbered by Pryor.

    Related Collections

    Hoover Institution Archives holds the related Roy Pryor radio broadcast collection, XX650.  Pryor donated fifty-seven discs related to World War II to Hoover, some of which overlap with the programs held by ARS. Hoover has the following programs: 445, 561, 587, 625, 632, 638, 672, 673, 675, 678, 679, 687, 688, 691, 692, 695, 696, 699, 701, 702, 704, 714, 716, 717, 720, 723, 724, 728, 734, 735, 736, 737, 747, 815, and 891. Twenty-five of the titles in the Hoover collection are not in the ARS collection, and eleven titles overlap.

    Indexing Terms

    Radio programs
    Radio journalism.
    World War, 1939-1945.