Edward R. Murrow Delivering 1963 Commencement Speech

Source: University Archives, UW0000:2:14:a:3

B/W film w/audio of Edward R Murrow speaking

B/W film w/audio of Edward R Murrow speaking

Staff Person: L. K. Gypsye Legge


As the spring semester advances, graduation may seem in the distant future, but in about 12 weeks students will turn their tassels and join the ranks of ECU alumni. While plans have not been announced for the 101st commencement speaker, there is no doubt that this will be a memorable day for the graduates, their families, and friends. The University Archives strives to record every event of note on campus. There are many records related to graduation, such as Commencement programs and numerous photographs. One very special record we have is a 16 mm film of the 1963 commencement speech. The speaker, pictured below in frames scanned from the film, was Edward R. Murrow.

Edward R. Murrow was a native son of North Carolina, having been born in Guilford County. He had an illustrious career in broadcast journalism, and went on to be appointed head of the United States Information Agency. The Voice of America, part of the USIA, has a large presence in Pitt County. In 1963, the VoA had just begun broadcasting and receiving in Pitt County at three sites [http://digitial.lib.ecu.edu/historyfiction/fullview.aspx?id=voa, accessed 2 Feb 2009] so that may have been a contributing factor to Mr. Murrow being invited to speak.

On the subject of the speech, please note the wavering pattern to the right of the image. That is an optical sound track, probably applause given the regular pattern. We were very excited to locate this item during a survey of media in the Archives, but have yet to be able to project the film and listen to the speech. Film projectors are aging along with films, and at this time Special Collections does not have a projector that we would trust with such a unique and valuable item. Written records of the speech exist, so once funds have been secured to properly transfer this item, we can compare the text with the words as they were spoken.

Those interested in this film, or any other media, are welcome to contact the University Archives for further information.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version.