Skip to Content


IRENE Seeing Sound Blog

1951 Radio Transcription - Boston Bookmobile Driver Interview!

Audio Preservation staff continues testing and refinements of NEDCC's IRENE 2D process this week.

The Boston Public Library provided this sample radio transcription on a 78 rpm instantaneous lacquer disc .


The recording is an interview by Boston's WNAC radio with one of the city's dedicated bookmobile drivers.

Classic audio snapshot of an era. (And classic Boston accent!)




IRENE3D and 2D Too!

This week, testing is underway in NEDCC’s IRENE lab for the 2D capabilities of the system. The IRENE system operates two separate cameras – IRENE3D and IRENE2D.

Because the grooves on materials such as wax cylinders are cut vertically, the IRENE3D camera captures the up-and-down (“hill-and-dale”) topography through which a stylus would travel along the groove. The IRENE2D camera captures the side-to-side shape of the grooves in materials that were cut laterally, like 78’s, lacquer discs, and dictabelts, etc. In both cases, the software analyzes the images and then converts that data into sound.


A sample 78 recording used in the IRENE/2D testing phase.

(Elvira de Hidalgo December 28, 1891 – January 21, 1980)

disc grooves

This is how IRENE sees the grooves on the 78 recording above.




NEDCC will soon be testing IRENE on damaged or broken cylinders and discs, allowing
the images to be stitched back together, and the sound recaptured.

Think of the preservation possibilities!

"The Tune She Most Clung To . . ."

The Middlebury College Flanders Ballad Collection
IRENE 3D Imaging project continues . . .


One of the performers featured on the wax cylinders being imaged with the IRENE 3D camera:

Ellen M. Sullivan, Springfield, VT
Singing 'The Wild Cowboy'

Mrs. Ellen M. Sullivan was a special friend of Flanders. In a 1957 lecture, Flanders recalled her early meetings with Sullivan:

“In around 1932 in my home town of Springfield, Vermont, I discovered Mrs. Sullivan, a bedridden woman whose Irish memories were pure poetry when recounted in prose, even more so when in the form of old ballads. She could slightly keep a tune and the tune she most clung to was used for many different ballads. Her digressions were as important as background to her singing. Mrs. Sullivan sang or recited over fifty-five songs and told several stories between 1932 and 1940.”

(From An Index to Field Recordings in the Flanders Ballad Collection at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, 1983. Middlebury College Special Collections.)