The Voice of Firestone began life as a radio broadcast on NBC Radio on December 3, 1928. Since its inception, the program featured performances by acclaimed classically trained musicians and popular Broadway stars. Performers such as Risë Stevens, Richard Crooks, Eleanor Steber and Gladys Swarthout were frequent guests on the program. In 1949, The Voice of Firestone made history by becoming one of the first series to be simulcast on both radio and television. The Voice of Firestone television program continued to air on NBC until 1954, when due to scheduling conflicts, the show producers chose to end their contract and sign with ABC.The radio broadcast ended in 1956, but the television broadcast continued to air on ABC off and on until 1963.
The show was sponsored throughout its run by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and featured active involvement by members of the Firestone family. Most notably was the involvement of Idabelle Firestone, wife of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company founder Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938). Idabelle Firestone, née Smith, was born November 10, 1874. She and Firestone were married in 1895, and were the parents of six children. Idabelle was a musician and composer, and as such contributed several songs to The Voice of Firestone. The compositions “In My Garden” and “If I Could Tell You” both were featured as theme songs for the program. Many of her other compositions were published, and her work was often recorded, perhaps most notably by the famous mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens. Idabelle became a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (A.S.C.A.P.) in 1948, and maintained an active interest in music and The Voice of Firestone until her death on July 7, 1954.
Idabelle’s eldest son, Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. was born April 20, 1898, and succeeded his father as Chairman of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. He was extremely active in the management of The Voice of Firestone, and conducted much of the business surrounding both the program and, especially, his mother’s music. Both father and son hosted The Voice of Firestone radio show. During the year 1931-1932, Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. gave talks on the rubber industry. Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. was highly invested in the fate of The Voice of Firestone, and took on a very vocal role during the aforementioned scheduling conflicts. He championed the show as it was, and did not compromise the vision of the program to satisfy network pressures. He also was responsible for managing much of his mother’s later career, especially in regard to copyright issues and dealings with collaborators. Harvey S. Firestone Jr. passed away on June 1, 1973.
In the early 1990s, Video Artists International (VAI) produced segments of The Voice of Firestone television episodes on commercial VHS, each devoted to an individual performer.
-Joel Sternberg, “Voice of Firestone, The,” The Museum of Broadcast Communications (Accessed April 2012), <http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=voiceoffire>
For a look at a recent exhibit featuring selected photos and memorabilia from the Voice of Firestone collection, click here.
Idabelle Firestone Audio Library
In 1971 the Firestone Company generously donated several hundred kinescope film recordings of the weekly television production of The Voice of Firestone to New England Conservatory. Two years later in 1973, the Idabelle Firestone Audio Library opened at NEC, construction funded by the Firestone Foundation. The Library was designed by the architecture company of Kilman, Hopkins, Greeley and Brodie, and contracted by the George B. Macomber Company. This new library provided a special vault for storing The Voice of Firestone kinescope film collection and an Audio/visual library for student listening/viewing.
As Firestone library reached its 40 year anniversary library it housed over 3,500 video recordings and 72,000 sound recordings. These include general recordings, all NEC concerts and faculty recitals since 1969, and The Voice of Firestone collection.
In 2009, the Harvey Firestone Jr. Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to NEC for a preservation project to transfer a major portion of The Voice of Firestone kinescope film collection to DVD. In 2012 this preservation project was completed. The Voice of Firestone film collection is now available on DVD for viewing in the NEC Library. To view an episode index to the Voice of Firestone television show, click here.
The Voice of Firestone Collection consists of two manuscript boxes, one newspaper box, and two record cartons. It spans approximately 7 linear feet. The collection is primarily paper, but also contains a sizable assortment of photographs, several scrapbooks, and several artifacts, including trophies awarded to The Voice of Firestone. There is also one oversize box containing Firestone Library architectural plans.
The materials in this collection originally belonged in two separate collections. Due to the fact that both collections pertained to the same topic, they were merged in summer 2012. The contents of the entire collection were donated to NEC by the Firestone family between 1969-1971. Materials such as those created by the Conservatory administration, Harvey Firestone, Jr., the architect James Hopkins, contractor George Macomber, Remington Rand, Educational Electronics, Lake Systems, VAI, and various other parties were originally located in the audio department of the Conservatory, were transferred to Performance Services in the 1990s, and then were given to the NEC Archives in 2008. Other portions of this collection such as photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and music by Idabelle Firestone had been housed in Spaulding library with the audio/video items stored in Firestone. Now the entire collection will be housed together in the new NEC Library.
Access to this collection is by appointment with the NEC Archivist. There are no restrictions pertaining to this collection.
All copyrights to The Voice of Firestone collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as:The Voice of Firestone Collection, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA
*processed by Andrea Brunner, Fall 2009; processed and merged by Kiersten Paine, Spring-Summer 2012.
Scope & Content
The Voice of Firestone collection is organized into the following eleven series:
- Program Transcripts and Details
- Scrapbooks and Memorabilia
- Firestone Library Plans
- Copyright and Artist Waivers
- Lending and Licensing Agreements
- Kinescope Film Program Listings
The Correspondence is organized into several categories. The series spans from 1929-2000, with the bulk spanning 1929-1973. This series consists of acknowledgements, requests, professional correspondence, correspondence from Voice of Firestone performers, letters from listeners, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (A.S.C.A.P.) correspondence and related documents, correspondence and attached documents about copyright, and correspondence related to the donation to the New England Conservatory. Highlights from the professional correspondence sub-series include letters from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and letters from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower. Though the majority of the A.S.C.A.P. material is housed in Box 1, there is an oversized, framed certificate confirming Idabelle Firestone’s membership which is housed with several other oversized items in Box 2.
ThePhotographs are organized into three sub-series. The first consists of photographs of members of the Firestone family, primarily of Idabelle Firestone, Harvey S. Firestone, and Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. Those with dates attached span from 1895-1928. The second features photographs of members of the Firestone family with others, generally those involved in the show. This assortment spans 1928-1959. The final sub-series consists of photographs of Voice of Firestone performers and productions. This sub-series features some dated and some undated photos. Those with dates span 1928-1959. This portion contains many photographs of the Voice of Firestone orchestra, as well as headshots of some of the more frequent and notable guest performers on The Voice of Firestone.
The third series contains an assortment of Music. The first sub-series of music contains unpublished compositions and manuscripts, which are arranged by song. The second music sub-series is an assortment of published sheet music by Idabelle Firestone. Next is a sub-series consisting of manuscripts, compositions, lyrics, and published music by individuals other than Idabelle Firestone. This is a relatively small sub-series, and primarily consists of music composed by Elizabeth Firestone. Following this is an assortment of lyrics sheets and notes, a sub-series concerning royalties and sales, and, finally, an undated list of scores. The music series contains an oversized manuscript which is unfoldered and housed in Box 2.
Publicity related to The Voice of Firestone comprises the fourth series. This series consists of press releases spanning 1932-1971, biographical sketches, newspaper clippings spanning 1928-1991, magazines and pamphlets spanning 1932-1991 with the bulk spanning 1932-1970, a sub-series about the White House State Dinner of January 20, 1959, and a sub-series dedicated to transcriptions of radio talks about rubber farming in Liberia by Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. Highlights include a copy of the first issue of LIFE weekly news magazine, which features a small photograph of Idabelle Firestone and a mention of the Voice of Firestone program, and additional copies of the letters from President and First Lady Eisenhower in the folder devoted to the White House State Dinner.
The fifth series consists of Program Transcripts and Details. This series is rather small, and contains a selection of program transcripts from the years 1932-1952, as well as details, guest artists, and selections from 1931-1963. Some of the transcripts and details in this series refer to Voice of Firestone broadcasts, while others, such as the Inaugural Concert of 1933 and the special Mother’s Day 1950 WADC Orchestra broadcast, refer to programs unrelated to the Voice of Firestone directly, but which featured performances by frequent Voice of Firestone guests or the use of songs composed by Idabelle Firestone.
The Awards series consists of three sub-series: awards and certificates from 1935-1959; publicity about awards from 1934-1959; and correspondence about awards from 1946-1957. Though the entire series is housed in Box 3, three of the physical awards are oversized and are unfoldered. These are: the Lowell Mason Award of 1950, which is housed in a wooden case; the trophy awarded to Voice of Firestone for winning the Popularity Poll in the category of Favorite Classical Musical Show by TV Digest (n.d.); and a recognition dated December 3, 1938 from NBC acknowledging the ten year anniversary of the Voice of Firestone broadcast.
The seventh series consists of Scrapbooks and Memorabilia. This series contains six scrapbooks comprised of sheet music for Idabelle Firestone’s compositions, newspaper clippings, and letters from fans of the Voice of Firestone and Idabelle Firestone’s music. There is also one scrapbook containing newspaper clippings about and photographs of frequent Voice of Firestone guest performers. Finally, this series contains a folder of memorabilia which includes: ticket holders from Voice of Firestone telecasts; several commemorative items from the program’s 25th anniversary broadcast; and small items sent to Idabelle Firestone, such as the program to a concert where one of her songs was performed.
The eight series is devoted toFirestone Library Plans. This comprehensive series features layouts of and correspondence about the plans for the library itself, as well as the Remington Rand Vault and the recording studio. This series contains budget information, correspondence about and documentation of contributions, lists of technical specifications, plans for preservation and projects, appraisal information, and correspondence about and photographs of the library’s dedication. The last folder is a fairly straightforward Inventory documenting the scope of the Firestone donation during the years 1969-1995. Also part of this series is a large oversize box containing Firestone Library architectural plans (15 technical drawings) by Allan Chapman and Associates.
Series nine consists of Copyright and Artist Waivers. This series spans 1971-1980, with some undated material, and primarily concerns the transfer of copyright to the New England Conservatory.
Series ten concerns Lending and Licensing Agreements. This series covers the years 1977-2001, and consists primarily of requests for use of Firestone material, as well as some correspondence between the New England Conservatory and other agencies seeking to establish standards for lending and licensing of Firestone material.
Kinescope Film Program Listings are housed in series eleven. This series is an alphabetical list of every artist featured on the Voice of Firestone kinescopes. The last folder consists of Off-The-Air Kinescopes List of Special Guests/Speakers and Artists/Conductors, a listing of the special guests, speakers, artists, and conductors who appeared on the Off-The-Air Kinescopes. Also included are information and program listings for the 45 "Eyewitness to History" programs produced by CBS from 1959-1961. These films were transferred to the Library of Congress in 2000.
Series I – Correspondence
Box 1 – Folder 1
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-A, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 2
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-B, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 3
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-C, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 4
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-D, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 5
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-E, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 6
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-F, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 7
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-G, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 8
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-H, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 9
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-I, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 10
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-J, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 11
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-K, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 12
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-L, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 13
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-M, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 14
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-N, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 15
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-O, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 16
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-P, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 17
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-R, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 18
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-S, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 19
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-T, 1953-1954
Box 1 – Folder 20
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-U-V, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 21
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-W, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 22
Correspondence, Acknowledgements-Y-Z, 1954
Box 1 – Folder 23
Correspondence, Requests, 1953-1955
Box 1 – Folder 24
Correspondence, Professional, 1929-1932
Box 1 – Folder 25
Correspondence, Professional, 1933
Box 1 – Folder 26
Correspondence, Professional, 1934
Box 1 – Folder 27
Correspondence, Professional, 1936-1937
Box 1 – Folder 28
Correspondence, Professional, 1938
Box 1 – Folder 29
Correspondence, Professional, 1939-1940
Box 1 – Folder 30
Correspondence, Professional, 1941-1942
Box 1 – Folder 31
Correspondence, Professional, 1944-1945
Box 1 – Folder 32
Correspondence, Professional, 1946
Box 1 – Folder 33
Correspondence, Professional, 1947
Box 1 – Folder 34
Correspondence, Professional, 1948
Box 1 – Folder 35
Correspondence, Professional, 1949
Box 1 – Folder 36
Correspondence, Professional, 1950
Box 1 – Folder 37
Correspondence, Professional, 1951
Box 1 – Folder 38
Correspondence, Professional, 1952
Box 1 – Folder 39
Correspondence, Professional, 1953-1959
Box 1 – Folder 40
Correspondence, From Voice of Firestone Performers, 1930-1959; n.d.
Box 1 – Folder 41
Correspondence, Letters from Listeners, 1932
Box 1 – Folder 42
Correspondence, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (A.S.C.A.P.) Correspondence and Related Documents, 1941-1967 (Idabelle Firestone’s membership certificate for 1948 is oversized; filed in Box 2)
Box 1 – Folder 43
Correspondence, Correspondence and Attached Documents about Copyright, 1929-1947
Box 1 – Folder 44
Correspondence, Correspondence and Attached Documents about Copyright, 1972-2000
Box 1 – Folder 45
Correspondence, Requests to N.E.C., 1970-2004; n.d.
Box 1 – Folder 46
Correspondence, Hopkins, Macomber and Chapman, 1969-1973; n.d.
Box 1 – Folder 47
Correspondence, Memos, 1969-1972
Box 1 – Folder 48
Correspondence, Library Correspondence, 1969-1973; 1986; n.d.
Box 1 – Folder 49
Correspondence, Correspondence with Bernice Vigar, Archives Department at Firestone Co., 1973-1974
Series II – Photographs
Box 2 – Folder 1
Photographs, Firestone Family, 1895-1928; n.d.
Box 2 – Folder 2
Photographs, Firestone Family with Others, 1928-1959
Box 2 – Folder 3
Photographs, Voice of Firestone Performers and Productions, 1928-1959; n.d.
Series III – Music
Box 2 – Folder 4
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“You are the Song in My Heart,”/”Love is the Song in My Heart” (Oversize manuscript for “You are the Song in My Heart” filed in Box 2)
Box 2 – Folder 5
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“Melody of Love”
Box 2 – Folder 6
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“In My Garden”
Box 2 – Folder 7
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“If I Could Tell You”
Box 2 – Folder 8
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“Forget Me Not”
Box 2 – Folder 9
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“Do You Recall”
Box 2 – Folder 10
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-“Bluebirds”
Box 2 – Folder 11
Music, Compositions and Manuscripts-Unclassified
Box 2 – Folder 12
Music, Published Music by Idabelle Firestone
Box 2 – Folder 13
Music, Published Music by Idabelle Firestone
Box 2 – Folder 14
Music, Manuscripts, Compositions, Lyrics, and Published Music by Individuals Other Than Idabelle Firestone
Box 2 – Folder 15
Music, Lyrics Sheets and Notes
Box 2 – Folder 16
Music, Royalties and Sales, 1952; 1971-1973
Box 2 – Folder 17
Music, List of Scores; n.d.
Series IV – Publicity
Box 3 – Folder 1
Publicity, Press Releases, 1932-1971
Box 3 – Folder 2
Publicity, Biographical Sketches
Box 3 – Folder 3
Publicity, Newspaper Clippings, 1928-1991; n.d.
Box 3 – Folder 4
Publicity, Magazines and Pamphlets, 1932-1991; n.d.
Box 3 – Folder 5
Publicity, White House State Dinner, 1959
Box 3 – Folder 6
Publicity, Harvey Firestone, Jr. Radio Talks, 1931-1932
Series V – Program Transcripts and Details
Box 3 – Folder 7
Program Details, Scripts, Transcripts and Details, 1932-1952
Box 3 – Folder 8
Program Details, Guest Artists and Selections, 1931-1963
Series VI – Awards
Box 3 – Folder 9
Awards, Awards and Certificates, 1935-1959; n.d. (Lowell Mason Award of 1950, housed in a wooden case, trophy awarded to Voice of Firestone for winning the Popularity Poll in the category of Favorite Classical Musical Show by TV Digest (n.d.), and a recognition dated December 3, 1938 from NBC acknowledging the ten year anniversary of the Voice of Firestone broadcast are all oversized and
unfoldered in Box 3)
Box 3 – Folder 10
Awards, Publicity about Awards, 1934-1959
Box 3 – Folder 11
Awards, Correspondence about Awards, 1946-1957
Series VII – Scrapbooks and Memorabilia
Box 4 – Folder 1
Scrapbooks and Memorabilia, Scrapbooks
Box 4 – Folder 2
Scrapbooks and Memorabilia, Scrapbooks
Box 4 – Folder 3
Scrapbooks and Memorabilia, Memorabilia
Series VIII – Firestone Library Plans
Box 5 – Folder 1
Firestone Library Plans, Layouts, 1969-1972; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 2
Firestone Library Plans, Budget & Prospectus, 1969-1972; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 3
Firestone Library Plans, Contributions, 1969-1977, n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 4
Firestone Library Plans, Remington Rand Vault, 1969-1971
Box 5 – Folder 5
Firestone Library Plans, Recording Studio, 1967-1972; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 6
Firestone Library Plans, Technical Specifications, 1970-1972
Box 5 – Folder 7
Firestone Library Plans, Firestone Library Dedication, 1973; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 8
Firestone Library Plans, Preservation, 1999-2008; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 9
Firestone Library Plans, Projects, 1969-1991; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 10
Firestone Library Plans, Appraisal, 1969-1972, 1995
Box 5 – Folder 11
Inventory of donation, 1969-1995; n.d.
Series IX – Copyright and Artist Waivers
Box 5 – Folder 12
Copyright and Artist Waivers, 1971-1980; n.d.
Series X – Lending and Licensing Agreements
Box 5 – Folder 13
Lending and Licensing Agreements, 1977-2001
Series XI – Kinescope Film Program Listings
Box 5 – Folder 14
Original Kinescope Film Program Listing by Artist, A1-D19; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 15
Original Kinescope Film Program Listing by Artist, E1-H76; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 16
Original Kinescope Film Program Listing by Artist, J1-M125; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 17
Original Kinescope Film Program Listing by Artist, N1-S189; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 18
Original Kinescope Film Program Listing by Artist, T1-W73; n.d.
Box 5 – Folder 19
Off-The-Air Kinescopes List of Special Guests/Speakers and Artists/Conductors; n.d.
Box 5 - Folder 20
'Eyewitness to History' kinescopes
Box 6(oversize) - Firestone Library architectural plans.
processed by Andrea Brunner, Fall 2009; processed and merged by Kiersten Paine, Spring-Summer 2012.