Audio recordings of Harriet Monroe

Thanks to the scholarly sleuthing, the archival negotiating, the digitizing, the uploading and filenaming, and the context-setting of Chris Mustazza, PennSound is now adding eight audio recordings of Harriet Monroe — the founding editor of Poetry and one of the crucial figures in the editorial acceptance and promotion of modernism in the U.S. — made in 1932.

Here is what Chris has to say about this acquisition:

Harriet Monroe was recorded reading her poetry at Columbia University on January 29, 1932. The recording, made by Barnard professor W. Cabell Greet, was one of the first recordings in a series that came to be known as The Contemporary Poets Series, which began with the recording of Vachel Lindsay in 1931 (available here in PennSound). Several of Greet’s recordings were later released on distribution LPs, produced by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), for pedagogical purposes and distributed to schools on a subscription basis. These recordings of Monroe were never released (the reason why is unclear at this time). While there is still research to be done as to how Monroe came to be recorded in this session, it seems likely that Vachel Lindsay would have been the connection between Greet and Monroe. Monroe and Lindsay collaborated over the years, including Monroe writing the introduction for Lindsay’s The Congo and Other Poems and her publication of him in Poetry magazine. Lindsay died less than two months before these recordings we made, and so may have helped to arrange the recording session before his death. This is the first time the recordings, originally made on two aluminum records, are being distributed to the public. PennSound wishes to thank the staff at Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library for their help in obtaining and digitizing these recordings, as well as Ann Monroe, for giving us permission, on behalf of the Monroe family, to distribute them.

These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. The copyright is retained by the estate of Harriet Monroe. I have been corresponding with Ann Monroe of Brooklyn, NY, about these recordings for nearly a year, and I and we are grateful that Ann and other descendents of Harriet have given us permission to make her recordings available to all.