Preserve Voices of the Counterculture: The Bob Fass Archive
Activist and “Radio Unnameable” host Bob Fass earned a reputation as “the midwife at the birth of the counterculture” for his commentary on the culture and turbulent politics of the 1960s and ‘70s, covering such landmark events as the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Columbia University student protests, and the Tompkins Square Riots. First aired in 1963 on New York’s WBAI, “Radio Unnameable” connected ordinary callers with each other as well as with cultural icons of the counterculture in an unscripted fashion that gave voice to social justice issues like free speech, pacifism, and poverty.
Columbia University Libraries’ Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired Fass’s archive, an extensive collection of radio broadcasts, original photographs, and personal correspondence, in 2016. Highlights from the 600,000 minutes of broadcast footage include conversations with Abbie Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg, and Timothy Leary as well as performances by and in-studio visits with Bob Dylan, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Arlo Guthrie.
Offering in-depth, unfiltered insight into an era of widespread change in America, the recordings are stored on fragile tapes that are at risk of ruin if not preserved by curators in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Your contributions will fund the Libraries’ initial effort to digitize and preserve these broadcasts for future generations of scholars and students. The tapes must be digitized before the multitude of voices that Fass made heard are lost to history.
Our crowdfunding page closes at midnight on Friday, January 13. However, should you like to make a donation offline or check on our progress, please do reach out to Matthew Hampel at firstname.lastname@example.org.