New Stuff

Amazing WWII radio message preserved!

On March 12, 1942 a radio message from Biddeford, Maine was broadcast from Boston’s WRUL radio station, with the main audience being the people of Bideford, Devon in the UK. The message sent to the city on England’s western coast (and Biddeford, Maine’s namesake) was one in a series of such broadcasts from cities and towns in New England to sister cities across England during the early years of the war. It featured addresses read by the city’s mayor, Louis B. Lausier; the city treasurer, William Shaw; and the city librarian, Dane Yorke.

(L-R) William Shaw, Louis Lausier, Dane Yorke (Biddeford, ME), R.W. Cotton (Bideford, UK) and Armand Duquette (Biddeford, ME), 1943.

There was a ton of excitement about the broadcast, and it was covered widely in the local press:

From the Biddeford Daily Journal, March 11, 1942, p1.
From the Biddeford Daily Journal, March 12, 1942, p8.
From the Biddeford Daily Journal, March 13, 1941, p1 (continues below)
From the Biddeford Daily Journal, March 13, 1942, p3.

80 Years Later…

The address was recorded ahead of time in Portland, Maine at WCSH, upon a large glass and lacquer record. The record (whether it’s the one and only or a spare copy is not known) was kept by McArthur Library, and resurfaced 80 years later from the depths of a large safe at the library. The record had a large crack down the middle, but otherwise was in excellent condition. Recognizing the significance (the only known recording of Louis “Papa” Lausier AND Dane Yorke!) the library contacted NEDCC in Andover, Mass. to make arrangements for the record to be digitized for access and a specialized housing to be constructed by the experts there to preserve the original now and into the future. Using specialized technology to safely copy the audio files on the record (seriously, it’s pretty amazing engineering!) the library was given digital files of the recording which we can now share with the community.

The recording talks about several historical items, which were in 1942 still in possession of the library. Today we only have copies of these documents (the Anne Buck deed), or maybe a single piece of paper left of an originally large collection of papers (Captain Mosher’s papers). I haven’t found any records which tell us what was done with those originals. It is a sad thing but happens often enough when you don’t have dedicated staff to manage large historical collections. Luckily for us, at least the record itself was stored safely away and when it was discovered, it was brought to me so we could preserve it and provide access – which to it’s credit, the library readily did. Biddeford is pretty lucky, in lots of ways, historically speaking – am I right?

I hope you take time to listen to the recording, and enjoy hearing the voices of those long past but who we remember still for their service to the city of Biddeford.