A Voice From the Past – WWII ” Letter on a Record” Digitized!

WWII USO "letter on record"

WWII USO “letter on record”

I have to admit that this is a first for me.  99% of my posts have been dedicated to photos mixed with the occasional letter and/or youtube video.  This is the first time I’ve digitized a WWII record! The process was incredibly laborious and the results were scratchy and hard to listen to.  Given the condition of the record as well as the limited audio digitization available, I think I did a decent job.

Here’s the story – I purchased a set of WWII “Letter on Record” wax and paper records produced by the USO in WWII.  They were put out by the USO in affiliation with organizations such as the National Catholic Community Service.  According to my research, over 350 recording booths were available during the war with a total production of 350,000 +/-.  They were printed on wax and paper records using a recording booth where the sitter would talk while the machine “cut” their voice into the record.  They were then sent home to be listened to by loved ones.  I can’t imagine they were made to survive 70 years, but these two copies remain in decent condition.  I purchased them for $1.50 each at a local flea market.

The discs were recorded by a Eugene “Gene” Daly who was stationed at an Army Air Corps base in Charleston, SC during the war.  He was a member of Crew 620 of Sub Unit E.  I’m not entirely sure what this group did but it may have to do with sub patrol on the East Coast.  It was sent to Bunny Echenique of 122 Bedford Ave, Grant City, Staten Island, NY in February of 1945.

I played the disc on my record player at 33 speed and held my iPhone up to the speaker and recorded what played.  I could hear a slowed down version of human speech so I knew that the process was working.  From there I sent the audio file to my computer where I fiddled with Audacity to tweak the speed.  I was able to speed up the voice by 1.6X.  A voice from 70 years ago played on my speakers.  From there I created a video with the actual record as the visual and posted it to youtube.  Listen for yourself!  I still have a few additional sides to record, but this one gives you the general feeling of Gene Daly’s “letter on a record”.

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2 thoughts on “A Voice From the Past – WWII ” Letter on a Record” Digitized!

  1. Thanks for this great post! My mother still has a couple of these that my Grandfather created while in England during the war. I recorded them to a cassette tape back in the 80’s. Had a record player that would play at 78rpm back then. I need to digitize them now and your tech notes should come in handy.

    • Mr. Stone,

      Glad to help! These are really incredible pieces of history and are not readily collected or appreciated. I’m glad I’ve been able to help out! If you need other tips or tricks let me know – these records are fun to discover!


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