Published: Sept. 20, 2012

Staff profiles: John Shaw

Contact(s): Alex Mitchell Office of Communications and Brand Strategy

The Michigan State University Vincent Voice Library has digital voice recordings of over 200,000 people, but its most recent addition is very unique.

"We recently received 56 oral history interviews with survivors of the atomic bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945," said John Shaw, assistant unit head of the Digital and Multimedia Center, and supervisor of the G. Robert Vincent Voice Library.

These interviews, which deal solely with survivors that emigrated from Japan to the Americas after the bombings, were conducted by filmmaker and performance artist Shinpei Takeda. After MSU professor Naoko Wake inquired about gaining access to these materials, the library was able to acquire the files through an agreement that benefitted both it and Takeda.

"Our file servers are highly protected," Shaw said. "Everything is backed up off site so we have strong protection. I think that's certainly of value to Mr. Takeda since he knows now that the information is safe in a completely different place than where he's at."

Currently, MSU has been the only university Takeda has chosen to share his files with, making the collection sought after.

"A set of materials like this it is very rare, especially at this point in time," Shaw said. "It's many years after the war and the World War II folks are sadly leaving us now. The fact that [Takeda] was able to find these people in the Americas to get these interviews and link them that way makes [the recordings] very unique."

Shaw said having access to a collection like this only strengthens the national reputation of MSU.

"The MSU Libraries is one of the best libraries in the United States and in the Big Ten," Shaw said. "This is a very nice addition to the MSU Libraries' collection and a great addition to the voice library."


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John Shaw, supervisor of the Vincent Voice Library. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

John Shaw, supervisor of the Vincent Voice Library. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

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