Notes On a Curated Set

Larry Maupin

I. Introduction

If I understand Paul Kornman's recent comments on curated sets correctly, no one has yet produced one for inclusion in the OTRR Library Collection.  I am working on one now and would like to share the methodology I have chosen with all members of the groups so that others who wish to produce such sets can perhaps benefit from my experience and improve on the process.

II. Selection of Material

I have a working title of "Historical Crime Cases as Dramatized on Radio Programs."  This is meant to be an elite group of cases, not an all-inclusive one.  To qualify, the case must have some singular characteristic that sets it apart from all others.  That could be (a) that the victim of the crime is famous, (b) that the criminal is sufficiently notorious as to be recognizable to most people with an interest in history, or (c) that the crime itself was sensational or that the case was and remains unique and memorable in the annals of jurisprudence.  Represented in the set I am working on are the assassinations of Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln, the crimes of villains as diverse as Jack The Ripper, Blackbeard and John Dillinger. and the case of Bathsheba Spooner who was reportedly the first woman ever formally tried for murder in the United States.

III. Sources

Crime Classics is the best source I know of for dramatizations of well-researched actual cases, so more episodes will be from that series than any other.  The Black Museum, Sensational British Trials, Unwritten Law, Unsolved Mysteries, Calling All Cars, The Lineup, Dragnet, The FBI in Peace and War and This Is Your FBI are other sources that may be represented. I should note that some of the programs, such as those from Sensational British Trials, were not aired until the 1990s but are being included because the cases they feature are all from the early 20th Century.  

Here I could use some help from other members.  I would like to find a good dramatization of the Lindberg Kidnapping Case and the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenburg if anyone knows where one can be found.  Also, if you are aware of even one episode of any of the abovementioned series that has the characteristics which would qualify it for inclusion in the set please let me know.  

I was going to include the Dragnet show in which Friday's partner dies and the one in which Friday is gravely wounded and hovers between life and death in a hospital bed, but upon reflection I think these are fictitious and thus not suitable for inclusion.

IV. Quality Control

I am digitizing every episode from cassette tapes in order to make certain that the final product will be of excellent sound quality.  I will not reject a tape just because of a little surface noise, but every word of the recording must be clear enough for a person with normal hearing to be able to understand it.

V. Submission of Material

As I understand from Paul's post, he would like each curated set to be accompanied by a description of the contents (not just a title) that outlines the theme and the principle of inclusion and exclusion that makes the collection unique and sets it apart from everything else that has previously been produced.

Also, I think he wants episode titles and (where possible) dates, and would like a brief summary of each episode.  To that end I will shortly begin posting summaries of each program that will be included in the collection.  These will be centered almost exclusively on the singular feature of interest that qualifies each episode for inclusion in the set, and thus will all be very brief.

It will indeed be a happy outcome if this becomes the first collated set to appear in the OTRR Library Collection and if it attracts a lot of listeners.

VI. Conclusion

I welcome comments from other members, and please don't hesitate to nominate an episode for inclusion that you think meets the criteria I have outlined and that you enthusiastically endorse.  That will make this more of a collaborative effort and may influence other members to develop curated sets. 

Larry Maupin