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Still Searching for Leopold’s Voice

During his years as a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold gave a number of lectures that were broadcast over the university’s radio station. Many of these broadcasts from the years 1935 to 1945 were recorded on acetate-coated, glass “transcription disks,” an early recording medium that resembled heavy, 16-inch phonograph records. You can read the full text of these lectures in the online Leopold Archives.

As this technology was replaced by more modern recording methods, the university dispersed many of the disks to an unknown number of individuals who agreed to store them. The Aldo Leopold Foundation is searching for those disks.

Many of the hundreds of these fragile disks were undoubtedly broken and discarded over the years, and only a few dozen ever found their way back into the Leopold Archives. None of the known surviving disks contain recordings of Leopold’s talks.

There is a slim chance that some additional disks still survive in the attics or basements of the private individuals who initially warehoused them, or their heirs. We are anxious to explore all leads that could result in the recovery of any missing disks. Although remote, the possibility exists that one or more of the disks may have the only recordings ever made of Leopold’s voice.

If you know anything (even hearsay) about the whereabouts of any glass transcription disks from the University of Wisconsin’s radio station, please contact Aldo Leopold Foundation senior fellow, Stanley Temple.