Hillsdale College has acquired the world’s most comprehensive collection of Churchill recordings. Many are very rare because they reach back over a century.
The collection was generously donated by collector and bibliographer Ronald I. Cohen of Ottawa, Ontario. Among the 300 recordings are 100 speeches and 24 readings from Churchill’s war memoirs.
Hillsdale College has a long-standing commitment to leadership studies through The Churchill Project. We encourage scholarship in, and completion of, the remaining volumes of The Churchill Documents, a series in Churchill’s official biography. The final volume 23 arrives in 2019, and so completes a 31-volume epic Randolph Churchill began in 1962.
Ronald Cohen wrote the Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill and founded the Churchill Society of Ottawa.“In forty years of collecting and bibliographical research, I have encountered no comparable audio collection,” he says, “The recordings represent the truest source of what he said because they are his actual voice, not a printed record. Here are the inspiring words that drew people to the wireless and gave them the courage to fight on.”
We are excited to acquire these recordings because Churchill is one of the great modern masters of oratory. His career is an invaluable study in statesmanship. The recordings range across a variety of mediums, from CDs and tapes to 33, 45, 78, and 80 rpm records. Few have the equipment to play them all. So Hillsdale College is now converting the recordings to digital format. The object is web-based access to students, scholars, and researchers.
Highlights of the collection:
The earliest Churchill recording known. This 1909 speech defended the Liberal budget, and so anticipated the 1910 general election. Because 78 rpm recordings did not appear until 1925, its speed is 80 rpm.
The Progress of the War. Four rare cased recordings of Churchill’s 1940 and 1941 broadcasts.
The Waldorf Astoria speech, 15 March 1946. This followed the “Iron Curtain” speech at Fulton. It is elaborately cased and bound.
The Pilgrims Society Dinner for Eleanor Roosevelt, Savoy Hotel, London, 12 April 1948. Churchill spoke on the third anniversary of Roosevelt’s death.
The 20th Century: Its Promise and its Realization. Churchill at the “Mid-Century” conference, M.I.T., 31 March 1949, a crucial but little-known oration because it predicted much of what lay ahead.kk
The Path of Duty. After becoming Prime Minister for the second time, Churchill spoke at the Guildhall, London, 9 November 1951 and laid out his program.j
The Years of Crisis (1933-1945): Columbia collected Churchill’s war speeches, including his response to Roosevelt in 1941: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”
Wartime Speeches of Winston S. Churchill 1940-1945. Cased edition from the Library of Imperial History, a rare item unheard of until its acquisition.
More to Come: The End of the Beginning
The Churchill Project serves to propagate a right understanding of Churchill’s record and his contributions to statecraft. We seek to promote Churchill scholarship through national conferences, scholarships, and other resources. Our resources were recently complemented by the Papers of Sir Martin Gilbert.
Ron Cohen and I often worked together over the years. It is a proud thing to see him bring this amazing collection to Hillsdale. The collaboration happily includes Ron himself, since no one can better discuss the subject. And no one else knows how some of them turned up, in odd corners of the world. For more details on the collection, please see his recordings bibliography.
But more and bigger news is still to come. Stand by!