Mandela trial: audio archives digitized

Mandela trial: audio archives digitized

Sun, 01/05/2016


Thanks to the LARHRA and the Archeophone

On March 17, 2016, France’s Institut national de l'audiovisuel (INA) officially handed over to the Republic of South Africa the last digitized audio recordings of the trial of Nelson Mandela and the leaders of the African National Congress. The digitization of these recordings, which were added in 2007 to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, was made possible thanks to the dedication of Henri Chamoux, research engineer at the ENS de Lyon within the Laboratory of historical research of the Rhône-Alpes region (LARHRA) and inventor of the Archeophone.
Henri Chamoux created the Archeophone in 1998: it’s the only modern device able to play all formats of wax or celluloid cylinders, produced between 1888 and 1929, and even later. These sound recordings are fragile and wear very quickly if they are read on vintage phonographs. The Archeophone allows the transcription of the cylinders onto CDs and is now used by the biggest archives holding such recordings. That’s how INA and LARHRA struck a deal, in November 2014, to digitize in the best technical conditions the Dictabelts from Mandela’s trial, known as the Rivonia trial.
These recordings are a unique testimony of the history of South Africa and have become a symbol of the fight for human rights and dignity around the world.
The Archeophone
The Archeophone, which allows the transcription of the cylinders on CD, is now used by the world’s largest archives holding such recordings: The Library of Congress, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Edison National Historic Site, as well as other private institutions and collections.