About G. Robert Vincent
The Voice Library began as the private collection of G. Robert Vincent. Vincent, who was born in 1900, was a noted sound engineer and pioneer in the field of recorded sound.
As a teenager, he served in World War I as a dispatch courier in the French Army and later in the American Army as an embassy Officer in Paris.
As an officer in the American Army in World War II, Vincent helped establish Armed Forces Radio and created the popular V-Disc program which sent popular music on unbreakable discs to servicemen in the field. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his contribution to the morale of U.S. troops.
In 1945, while still in uniform, Vincent also served as Sound Recording Officer at the Plenary Sessions of the United Nations in San Francisco and at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. Vincent’s recording of the United Nation’s first proceedings are now at the National Archives and his multilingual translation and recording system designed for the Nuremburg trials is considered a seminal model for such systems in use today.
Vincent’s love affair with recorded sound began in 1912 when he took a recording device, borrowed from the Edison Labs via his friend Charles Edison (Thomas Edison’s son), to the Oyster Bay home of Theodore Roosevelt. Vincent recorded TR in situ, giving a pep talk to the “American Boy”.
In the 1920s, Vincent apprenticed at the Edison Labs in New Jersey and in 1935 opened his own recording studio, the “National Vocarium”, at Radio City in New York. In his studio, Vincent both pioneered the restoration of early Edison cylinders and recorded the voices of the famous, such as explorer Richard Byrd, who crossed his path.
In 1962, Vincent presented his entire collection of audio recordings, representing well over 8,000 historic voices, to Michigan State University and became head of the new National Voice Library at the Michigan State University Libraries.
At the time of his retirement in 1973, the collection had grown to include recordings of the voices of over 30,000 persons from all walks of life.
G. Robert Vincent died in East Lansing in November of 1985.
For more information on G. Robert Vincent, please see Douglas E. Collar's 1988 dissertation: "Hello Posterity": the Life and Times of G. Robert Vincent, Founder of the National Voice Library.