A Reference Resource
The Warren G. Harding Speech Exhibit
apparatus to create a phonographic copy of one of his speeches.
American President: An Online Reference Resource is proud to introduce The Warren G. Harding Speech Exhibit. The exhibit features 14 audio excerpts of speeches given by Warren Harding. These audio clips were recorded from 1917 until 1921 during three stages in Harding’s career—as a U.S. Senator from Ohio, as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, and finally as President of the United States. This collection was first put together by President Harding’s nephew, Dr. George T. Harding III. Dr. Harding’s son, Warren G. Harding III, will publish the transcripts of these recordings in the forthcoming Practical Idealism and recently agreed to collaborate with the Miller Center on this online exhibit.
In the preface that accompanies these speeches, Warren G. Harding III wrote that “these 14 addresses by the 29th President of the United States Warren G. Harding offer an exceptional opportunity to hear and understand his perspective on the major cultural and political issues of his era. The addresses reveal a man highly accomplished in the art of effective speaking.”
“They were recorded to inform, educate, and preserve the content. The companies that produced the recordings included RCA Victor, Nation’s Forum, Pathé Actuelle, and Perfect. The election of 1920 was the last before the common use of radio communication. Acoustical recording had yet to be replaced by electrical enhancement of sound.” Harding had to limit his addresses to about 5 minutes because of the primitive recording equipment and techniques. To record the speeches, Harding shouted into a horn to generate the force to depress the stylus and cut the groove into the disc.
In the 1960s, “Dr. George T. Harding III wanted to preserve and make the addresses available to a widespread audience. He arranged to have the original 78-rpm recordings re-recorded to the updated 33-rpm format. As the President’s nephew, Dr. Harding had heard him speak many times and was able to help the recording engineer set the actual speed of play to reproduce the sound as close as possible to reality.” In 2004, the recordings were again updated and put onto compact discs, with the quality of sound being improved through modern noise reduction techniques.