Top page banner of the Journal for MultiMedia History.

Lost & Found Sound: Oral History,
Audio Artifacts, and a National Collaboration
——or, Never Throw Anything Away

The Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson
The Oral History Association Annual Meeting
October 13, 2000, Durham, North Carolina

On October 13, 2000 Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, better known as "The Kitchen Sisters," delivered the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Oral History Association in Durham, North Carolina. They spoke about their early years in radio and most notably about the creation of the Peabody Award-winning radio series, Lost and Found Sound. We taped their entire talk and have divided it here into segments, each featuring a conversation between Davia and Nikki discussing aspects of their work and introducing a particular piece. We've also provided links to the Lost and Found Web site where you can hear each program in its entirety, as well as much more by Davia, Nikki, and many others who contributed to the series—including co-producer and Quest for Sound curator Jay Allison. Unless otherwise noted, all images are from the Lost and Found Sound Web site.

The Editors       

picture of Jacquelyn Dowd Hall
Jacquelyn Dowd Hall
Lost and Found Sound
Segment 1: Introduction   
28.8 | 56

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, introduced the Kitchen Sisters to the audience. She first met Davia Nelson many years ago. More recently the Kitchen Sisters consulted with Hall when they were working on "WHER: The First All-Girl Radio Station in The World." For more extended comments by Hall on WHER and womenhood in the 1950s are at the Lost and Found Sound Web site.


1955 photo of the girls of WHER radio.
The Girls From WHER, circa 1955
Becky Phillips, Lost and Found Web site.
Segment 2:  Lost and Found Sound and WHER
28.8 | 56
Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, The Kitchen Sisters, thank the many collaborators on Lost and Found Sound and describe how they learned about WHER, the first all-girl radio station in the world. WHER went on-air October 29,1955, in Memphis, Tennessee, and stayed there for seventeen more years. The complete audio of the two-part program and additional background material, including some great photos, are at:
Part 1."WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts"
Part 2."WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts"

Watercolor of reader in cigar factory

'Literary Disagreement'
by Ferdie Pacheco

Segment 3:  The Quest for Sound and "Cigar Stories"
28.8 | 56

Here, Davia and Nikki talk about the wonderful sound artifacts gathered in The Quest for Sound, curated by Jay Allison. The explain how listener Henry Cordova's call to the Quest for Sound phone line eventually resulted in this story about the "readers" who made life in cigar factories tolerable—the men who were paid to read aloud to men and women rolling cigars in Tampa and Ybor City, Florida at the beginning of the century and into the 1930s.   "Cigar Stories: 'El Lector - He Who Reads'"

Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz
Lost and Found Web site.

Segment 4:  Tony Schwartz, Collecting the Sounds of the Century, & Oral History Collaborations
28.8 | 56

In this segment, the Kitchen Sisters elaborate on the elements of collaboration in their work with historians and other producers, encouraging oral historians to seek out producers and documentarians who can help them tell their stories. They also introduce a profile of Tony Schwartz, who has made more than 30,000 recordings in the streets, delis, cabs, playgrounds and stoops of his New York neighborhood.
"Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later "  

Poster: French Manicure
Lost and Found Web site.

Segment 5:  Stories From Life and "French Manicure"
28.8 | 56
Davia begins this segment by explaining how so many of the stories the Kitchen Sisters present come for real come from life. Here, A story of memory and manicuring. We learn why a Vietnamese immigrant chose the name Shirley. This piece asks "What sounds do you lose when you leave your country? What sounds teach you how to live in a new home?
"French Manicure - Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops"



Emmet Van Fleet and Guy Tyler
Emmett Van Fleet & Guy Tyler
Lost and Found Photo Gallery.
Segment 6:  A Chance Conversation in an Italian restaurant, the Mohave Nation, and Guy Tyler
28.8 | 56

The Kitchen sisters describe how a chance conversation in an Italian restaurant led to a hunt for sound recorded by Guy Tyler thirty years ago on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Parker, Arizona. Tyler, looking to make Mojave recordings, met Emmet Van Fleet, an elder of the tribe and the last of the Creation Song singers. Over several years, they meticulously the recorded the 525 song cycle that recounts the legend of the creation and origin of the Mohave people.
"House of Night: The Lost Creation Songs of the Mohave People"

Poster of Eddie McCoy

Eddie McCoy
Lost and Found Web site.

Segment 7:  Concluding Remarks and Eddie McCoy's Oral Histories of Oxford, North Carolina
28.8 | 56

Nikki and Davia introduce Eddie McCoy, self-made historian, who has done some 140 interviews and knows just about every detail of the life and lore of Oxford, North Carolina. Eddie records the who, what, when, where, why of slavery times, of sharecropping, the civil rights era, and so much more of life in Oxford. Produced with Leda Hartman.
"A Man Tapes His Town: The Unrelenting Oral Histories of Eddie McCoy"


~ End ~

Making Lost & Found Sound | Oral History-1 | Oral History-2 | Durham Talk | Working With the Kitchen Sisters 

Oral History, Audio Artifacts, and a National Collaboration
—or, Never Throw Anything Away

Copyright © 2000, 2001 by The Journal for MultiMedia History

Comments | JMMH Contents