Library of Congress honors Columbia recording

(CBS News) Every year, the Library of Congress designates 25 sound recordings "cultural and historic treasures" and it preserves the best available copy for future generations. This year's choices, announced Wednesday, include an 1888 hand-cranked recording of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"; Prince's "Purple rain," "A Charlie Brown Christmas"; and one that caught our ears.

Edward R. Murrow: Franklin D. Roosevelt stood beside Chief Justice Hughes on the steps of the Capitol on that raw afternoon of March 4th and a nation of 15 million unemployed listened.

This May 22, 1941 black-and-white handout photo provided by the National Archives shows President Franklin D. Roosevelt with, from second from left, Marguerite LeHand, Stephen Early, and secretary Grace Tully at the White House in Washington. AP

Franklin D. Roosevelt: ...Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

The recording is called "I Can Hear It Now" -- 13 years of incredible history from F.D.R.'s inauguration in 1933, through his funeral and the end of World War II in 1945 -- narrated by Edward R. Murrow.

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Murrow: A city watched. A nation listened. Arthur Godfrey, an old Washington hand, described it.

Arthur Godfrey: And now just coming past the Treasury, I can see the horses drawing the caisson.

Edward R. Murrow was the narrator for "I Can Hear It Now," a Columbia Records recording that was selected by the Library of Congress as a cultural and historical treasure, announced May 23, 2012. CBS News

The project was the brainchild of CBS News producer Fred Friendly. When a musicians' strike left Columbia Records in need of material, he went through 500 hours of radio broadcasts to create what he called a "scrapbook for the ear."

Murrow: On May 8, President Truman announced that another promise had been kept.

Harry Truman: ... the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly all over Europe.

Columbia released the five-disc set in 1948 and it was an immediate hit. In just six weeks, it sold 125,000 copies.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"