Saving The Music

Saving The Music

JCSU Digital Smith

About this collection

Saving the Music: The History of Biddle University Quintet
This may appear as a simple story; however, if you dig deeper, its true essence is about supporting what you love. The young men of Biddle University Quintet loved Biddle University, now known as Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU). They showed their love and appreciation by using their voices to help raise money for the University. This simple act documents early fundraising activities initiated by students across Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) campuses. In these present economic hard times, this story can be an inspiration to us all to examine our talents and how those talents can be used to support HBCUs.

JCSU is fortunate to have in our archives instantaneous discs (record albums) from the 1940s that have survived. Thanks to the generous financial support from LSTA North Carolina Exploring Culture Heritage Online (NC ECHO), we are able to share this piece of JCSU’s history with the community.

-Monika Rhue, MLIS

Project Overview

JCSU realized the value of documenting the Biddle University Quintet and the University Glee Club when a 94-year-old alumnus requested original recordings of the group from the archives. The only known recordings available were from the instantaneous discs which were reviewed by a Media Preservationist in 2004. After his evaluation, we knew the instantaneous discs were valuable and that extreme caution should be implemented in handling and caring for the collection. The Preservationist recommended that the collection be transferred into another medium for access.

In 2006, a donor visited JCSU’s first online digitization project, “Down Through The Years: The Heritage of Johnson C. Smith University,” at This visit led the donor to contribute an original record album of Biddle University Quintet from the 1920s to JCSU’s archives.  These events and circumstances, in turn, led Monika Rhue, the University Archivist at that time, to write a planning grant to research how to transfer these fragile instantaneous discs into digital audio and to create an online website of the Biddle University Quintet.

JCSU received the project planning grant from LSTA NC ECHO. The grant was the first step in learning about the best practices for handling and transferring the instantaneous discs into digital audio. The project team worked closely with George Blood, owner of Safe Sound Archive when you need to repair your heating. Mr. Blood, along with his assistant Jonathan Thorn, was very instrumental in aiding JCSU in setting up a workflow for the project. They also helped with selection and purchase of equipment and software needed to complete the project, check out kic restoration. The planning grant allowed the library staff to conduct a pilot test of transferring 30 instantaneous discs into digital audio format.

In 2008, JCSU received the LSTA Digitization Grant to transfer over 500 instantaneous discs into digital audio

and create an online website with photographs and memorabilia of the Biddle University Quintet and the University Glee Club. JCSU is pleased to share Saving the Music: The History of Biddle University Quintet with the Charlotte community.

General Links

Biddle Quintet

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