Have you ever wondered what Theodore Roosevelt actually sounded like? Or William Howard Taft?
Well, thanks to Thomas Edison, you don't have to wonder any more. Edison made recordings on cylinders of several noteworthy people of the early 20th century. These recordings are rare and seldom heard, but I found a cool site where you can listen to them.
Here's Teddy Roosevelt delivering a short speech about the "People's Right To Rule."
That's pretty much the way I thought he'd sound. I was sort of hoping he'd say, "Bully! Bully!" but unfortunately he didn't.
Want to hear Sarah Bernhardt doing a recitation of her role as Phedre? She was known all over the world for the emotional intensity of her captivating voice.
(But understand that, at the time of this recording, done in 1910, she was getting up there in age. I still think she sounds pretty good though.)
She actually starts out with a quivering, defeated kind of voice, but kicks it up to a more powerful one towards the end. Unfortunately, it's in French, because the one and only Bernhardt never bothered to learn any other language. Ha!
Pretty cool, huh? Now you can tell your friends that you've been listening to Teddy Roosevelt give a speech, and Sarah Bernhardt doing a recitation
and they'll think you're NUTS!
If you want to hear more voices from the past, you can visit these websites:
If you go to the Edison site (the second one), click on Edisonia to get to the recordings (then click on Sounds). You can listen to early 1900's vaudeville performers, or blues and jazz music. You can also view early Edison kinescopes.
Thomas Edison was the Youtube of his day!