Rank #1: 67 – The Hidden World of Girls with Tina Fey
Stories from The Hidden World of Girls with host Tina Fey: Nigerian writer Chris Abani tells about his English-born mother enlisting him at age 8 to be her translator in Nigeria as she travels door to door through the villages teaching women the Billings Ovulation Method of birth control. Plus stories from singer/actress Janelle Monae, science fiction writer Pat Cadigan, Estonian activist Tiina Urm and her “Let’s Do It Campaign” and more stories about girls and the women they become.
Rank #2: 100 - The Keepers: Archiving the Underground—The Hip Hop Archive
This is the first episode in our new series THE KEEPERS—stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians—Keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections they keep.
We begin at The Hip Hop Archive and Research Center at Harvard. In the late 1990’s the students of Dr. Marcyliena Morgan, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, started falling by her office, imploring her to listen to hip hop. They wanted her to hear this new underground sound and culture being created, the word play, the rhyming, the rapping. They wanted her to help them begin to archive this new medium. “Hip Hop *is *an archive," they told her. Dr. Morgan wasn’t an archivist and she didn’t listen to hip hop. But she listened to her students and saw a new kind of soundtrack emerging from the cracks.
Bit by bit she opened her office and her resources and began to collect the history and material culture of hip hop. Some 15 years later the Archive has gone from her office at UCLA to Harvard, where she and Professor Henry Louis Gates founded The Hiphop Archive & Research Institute at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute whose mission is to “facilitate and encourage the pursuit of knowledge, art, culture, scholarship and responsible leadership through Hiphop.” Along with gathering everything about hip hop for preservation and study, the Archive created the Nasir Jones Fellowship for scholarly research in the field, named for Nas, one of hip hop’s titans, and the “Classic Crates Project,” a collection that aims to archive 200 seminal hip hop albums in the same Harvard music library that houses the works of Mozart, Bertolt Brecht and Edith Piaf. The first four—Nas’ “Illmatic,” “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “The Low End Theory” by a Tribe Called Quest have been inducted into the University’s Loeb Music Library.
You’ll hear from Professor Marcyliena Morgan, Nas, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Nas Fellow Patrick Douthit aka 9th Wonder, The Hip Hop Fellows working at the Archive, an array of Harvard Archivists, and students studying at the Archive and the records, music and voices being preserved there.
And we take a look at the Cornell University Hip Hop Collection, founded in 2007, through a sampling of stories from Assistant Curator Jeff Ortiz, Johan Kugelberg author of “Born in the Bronx,” and hip hop pioneers Grandmaster Caz, Pebblee Poo, Roxanne Shante and more.
Rank #3: 79 – Pati’s Mexican Jewish Table
A walk through Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden with chef and cookbook author Pati Jinich, host of the Emmy and James Beard nominated PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC. Pati talks about her Jewish heritage, growing up in Mexico, immigration, life choices and how she found her way into the kitchen.
Rank #4: 119 - Nancy Pearl—Librarian Action Figure
Nancy Pearl—she’s been called “one of the 10 coolest librarians alive.” She’s the bestselling author of “Book
Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason,” and a regular commentator about books on NPR’s Morning Edition. She’s the creator of the much loved and imitated If All Seattle Read The Same Book project, encouraging everyone in the city to read the same book at the same time. And then, of course, there’s the Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure with amazing push-button shushing action.
A brilliant and entertaining storyteller, Nancy reveals how she became the “five-inch tall, plastic, non biodegradable librarian action figure with amazing push button shushing action.” She talks about her childhood library in Detroit—how it changed her life and provided refuge from her dysfunctional family. She gives tips on how to select books for people, and explains her Rule of 50 about when to give up on reading a book. She also talks about how “our leaders should be readers.”
Raised in Detroit, Michigan, Nancy earned her master’s in library science at the University of Michigan and became a children’s librarian at her hometown library. She moved to Oklahoma with her husband, professor Joe Pearl, and raised two daughters while earning a masters degree in history. In Tulsa she worked in an independent book store and the Tulsa City-County Library System. In 1993 she was recruited to join the Seattle Library where she later became executive director of the the library system’s Washington Center for the Book.
In addition to Book Lust, Nancy is the author of several other books including: Now Read This: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction 1978–1998 (and Now Read This II 1990-2001); Book Crush: For Kids and Teens; Book Lust To Go, Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers; and her novel, George and Lizzie.
Among her many awards, including the Library Journal’s 2011 Librarian of the Year Award, Nancy Pearl is the recipient of the coveted Kitchen Sisters’ Keeper of the Day Award (and trophy) presented at the American Library Association’s Conference in January 2019, at a special party sponsored by EveryLibrary, the national political action committee dedicated to the future of libraries, and bibliotheca, which connects libraries and their communities in new and effective ways.
Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure is part of The Kitchen Sisters’ series, The Keepers, about activist archivists, rogue librarians, historians, collectors, curators —keepers of the truth and the free flow of information. Heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, on The Kitchen Sisters Present podcast, and at kitchensisters.org.
Rank #5: 4 – The French Manicure – The Long Shadow of Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple died on February 10. 2014. Watching the parade of clips from her 1930s movies on TV that night brought back the magic she had as a child to delight and entertain. How many hours did we spend watching her tap her way through hard times and good?
It was actually Shirley Temple who triggered the story you’re about to hear. The year was 1999. I had been getting manicures for awhile at a Vietnamese nail shop in San Francisco from a woman named Shirley. Over the months I had come to know her a bit, she would ask about our radio shows, I would ask about her daughter Crystal. One day as we talked it occurred to me, why is this woman named Shirley? She is from Vietnam. There are no Shirley’s there.
When I asked how she came to be Shirley she told the most harrowing story of her passage to America as a young girl, her separation from her brother and mother as they escaped Vietnam by boat, how she washed ashore in America alone, sick and scared out of her mind, speaking no English.
She said in Vietnam her name was Hang, which means ‘Lonely woman looking at the moon.” Hang was hospitalized. In the hospital room she watched the black and white TV on the wall. Over and over she saw a little girl dancing, who was happy. She told herself she had to stop crying for her mother and brother. She was in America. She had to be happy too. Someone told her the little girl’s name was Shirley, Shirley Temple. So she took that name.
Shirley led us into her world. We spent months in Vietnamese nail salons, chronicling the lives of the women working there. Today we call this story “French Manicure: The Long Shadow of Shirley Temple”
Rank #6: 3 – Eel Pie Island
The Kitchen Sisters take us to a little-known, hidden corner of London — to Eel Pie Island, a tiny slice of land in the middle of the Thames. Now a small bohemian community of artists, inventors, river gypsies and boat builders, on the edge of Twickenham, Eel Pie Island has a flamboyant history that stretches from Henry VIII to The Rolling Stones.
Eel Pie Island is produced by The Kitchen Sisters with Nathan Dalton, mixed by Jim McKee / The Hidden World of Kate McGarrigle, produced by the Kitchen Sisters
Fugitive Waves is produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with Tom Corwin
Rank #7: 108 - The Dark Side of the Dewey Decimal System
Melvil Dewey, the father of library science and the inventor of the most popular library classification system in the world, was a known racist and serial sexual harasser. Forced out of the American Library Association, which he co-founded, his 19th century world view and biases are reflected in the classification system that libraries around the world have inherited.
Molly Schwartz of the Metropolitan New York Library Council and producer of the podcast Library Bytegeist visits Bard High School Early College in Queens to find out about how students there are rebelling against the Dewey Decimal System. She also talks with Greg Cotton (Cornell College), Barbara Fister (Gustavus Adolphus College), and Dorothy Berry (Umbra Search Project).
Rank #8: 36 – Tupperware
“Somewhere in the world there’s a Tupperware Party starting every 10 seconds.” And we’re going to one with The Kitchen Sisters.
Parties. Rallies. Sales sessions. More than a way of storing leftovers in covered plastic bowls, for many it’s a way of life. Earl Tupper took the plastics he developed for WWII into post-war American kitchens. The Tupperware Party is one of the ways women have come together to swap recipes and kitchen wisdom, get out of the house and support each other’s entrepreneurial efforts.
This story, which is used by instructors teaching audio classes around the country, was produced by The Kitchen Sisters in 1980, one of the first stories they created together. In this podcast the Sisters deconstruct the making of the piece and talk about the experiments and accidents that led to the development of their production style.
We also hear from Tupperware historian Dr. Allison Clarke, Professor of Design Theory & History, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and Tupperware consultant Lynn Burkhardt, and we hear vintage Tupperware ads from the Prelinger Archive—in a piece produced by Brandi Howell.
Rank #9: 106 - 21 Collections—Every Object has a Story
Paper airplanes, photographs of men in rows, birds nests, gay bar matchbooks, dolls hats —an untraditional take on what warrants our attention. As part of The Kitchen Sisters’ series THE KEEPERS, we wander through a curated collection of collections at the Los Angeles Central Library examining the role collections play in telling our stories.
As research for this project, Curator Todd Lerew visited over 600 museums, libraries, archives, and public and private collections, identifying those he felt told the most compelling and memorable stories.
We also hear from callers to THE KEEPERS HOT LINE —The Unofficial Archivist of Mt. Everest—Elizabeth Hawley; The Radio Haiti Archive; 19th & 20th century women scientists at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Glass Plate Collection; Christian Schwartz, 21st century naturalist and collector; Bobby Fulcher recorder and keeper of traditional rural Tennessee folk music and more.
Rank #10: 92 - The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel
In the early 1970’s, radio producer and author Studs Terkel wrote a book called Working. He went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. The book became a bestseller and even inspired a Broadway musical. Working struck a nerve, because it elevated the stories of ordinary people and their daily lives. Studs celebrated the un-celebrated.
Radio Diaries and their partner Project& were given exclusive access to these recordings, which were boxed up and stored away after the book was published. Stories of a private investigator, a union worker, a telephone operator, a a hotel piano player, and more.
As The Kitchen Sisters warm up for our new series “The Keepers,” stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, historians, collectors, curators —keepers of the culture—we share these stories gathered by the ultimate Keeper —Studs Terkel.
Rank #11: 107 - William Ferris—Keeper of Southern Folklife
Folklorist and Professor Bill Ferris, a Grammy nominee this year for his "Voices of Mississippi" 3 CD Box set, has committed his life to documenting and expanding the study of the American South. His recordings, photos and films of preachers, quilt makers, blues musicians and more are now online as part of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina.
Bill Ferris grew up on a farm in Warren County, Mississippi along the Black River. His family, the only white family on the farm, worked side by side with the African Americans in the fields. When he was five, a woman named Mary Gordon would take him every first Sunday to Rose Hill Church, the small African American church on the farm. When Bill was a teenager he got a reel-to-reel tape recorder and started recording the hymns and services.
“ I realized that the beautiful hymns were sung from memory—there were no hymnals in the church—and that when those families were no longer there, the hymns would simply disappear.”
These recordings led Bill to a lifetime of documenting the world around him—preachers, workers, storytellers, men in prison, quilt makers, the blues musicians living near his home (including the soon-to-be well known Mississippi Fred McDowell).
Bill became a prolific author, folklorist, filmmaker, professor, and served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a professor of history at UNC–Chapel Hill and an adjunct professor in the Curriculum in
Folklore. He served as the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of
Mississippi, where he was a faculty member for 18 years. He is associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South.
Bill’s has written and edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films, most dealing with African-American music and other folklore representing the Mississippi Delta. His thousands of photographs, films, audio interviews, and recordings of musicians are now online in the William R. Ferris Collection, part of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina.
This story was produced by Barrett Golding with The Kitchen Sisters for The Keepers series.
Rank #12: 88 - Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens
Two-time Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand hosts Hidden Kitchens—secret, underground, below the radar cooking—how communities come together through food. Stories of NASCAR Kitchens, Hunting and Gathering with Angelo Garro, listeners calls to the Hidden Kitchens hotline and more.
**NASCAR Kitchens—Feed the Speed: Behind every car race is a kitchen—hidden in the crew pit, or tucked between the hauler and the trailer of the trucks that transport NASCAR and Indy cars from city to city. Public radio listener Jon Wheeler cooks for the drivers, haulers, pit crews, sponsors and owners on the racing circuit. He called the Hidden Kitchens hotline line to tell us about his world.
**Hunting & Gathering with Angelo Garro: Blacksmith, Angelo Garro forges and forages, recreating in wrought iron and in cooking the life he left behind in Sicily. The Kitchen Sisters join Garro along the coast of Northern California as he follows the seasons, harvesting the wild for his kitchen and his friends.
Rank #13: 93 - Prince and the Technician
In 1983 Prince hired LA sound technician, Susan Rogers, one of the few women in the industry, to move to Minneapolis and help upgrade his home recording studio as he began work on the album and the movie Purple Rain. Susan, a trained technician with no sound engineering experience became the engineer of Purple Rain, Parade, Sign o’ the Times, and all that Prince recorded for the next four years. For those four years, and almost every year after, Prince recorded at least a song a day and they worked together for 24 hours, 36 hours, 96 hours at a stretch, layering and perfecting his music and his hot funky sound. We interviewed Susan, who is now a Professor at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, for our upcoming NPR series, The Keepers — about activist archivists, rogue librarians, collectors, curators and historians. It was Susan who started Prince’s massive archive during her time with the legendary artist.
Rank #14: 116 - The Bob Dylan Archive - A Curveball Comes To Tulsa
It may come as no surprise but Bob Dylan is a Keeper. Bob and his team have been archiving his music, notebooks, paintings and journey for some five decades. Thousands of artifacts comprise this collection of American treasure. Bob kept just about everything — a massive private archive of a notoriously private person housed in storage facilities in New York, Minneapolis, Malibu and Jersey. So it made headlines when word got out that this secret archive had been sold and was headed to its new permanent, public home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A curveball nobody saw coming. Some archives are for scholars — devotees of a writer, scientist or historical figure. Some archives are tourist attractions. Few are part of a vision for the civic rejuvenation of a once thriving American city. Today, The Kitchen Sisters Present… The Bob Dylan Archive: A Curveball Comes To Tulsa, produced by The Kitchen Sisters — Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva, in collaboration with Olivia Ware and Samuel Shelton Robinson.
Rank #15: 12 – The Nights of Edith Piaf
She rose every day at dusk and rehearsed, performed, ate and drank until dawn. Then slept all day, woke up and began to create and unravel again as the sun went down. Nearly every song Edith Piaf sang came from a moment of her life on the streets of Paris. She would tell her composer and musician lovers a story, or describe a feeling or show them a gesture and they would put music and words to her pain and passion, giving her back her own musical autobiography. Charles Aznavour, Francis Lai, Georges Moustaki, Henri Contet, some of France’s great musicians and writers recall their nights with Edith Piaf.
The Nights of Edith Piaf was Produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with Raquel Bitton, who hosts and translates the program.
Rank #16: 50 – An Unexpected Kitchen: The George Foreman Grill
Sometimes life without a kitchen leads to the most unexpected hidden kitchen of all—the George Foreman Grill. How immigrants and homeless people without official kitchens use the George Foreman Grill, hidden crock pots, and secret hot plates to make a meal and a home. Featuring an interview with boxing champion and grill-master, George Foreman.
So many immigrants, homeless people and others of limited means living in single-room occupancies (SROs) have no kitchens, no legal or official place to cook. To get a hot meal, or eat traditional foods from the countries they’ve left behind, they have to sneak a kind of kitchen into their places. Crock pots, hot plates, microwaves and toaster ovens hidden under the bed. And now, the appliance that comes in so many colors it looks like a modern piece of furniture: the George Foreman Grill.
We had never considered such a hidden kitchen. So we called him. George Foreman talks about growing up hungry and violent, about his his time in the Job Corps, about cooking for his friends and his work with kids. “Feed them,” he says. “Hunger makes you angry.”
And we contacted the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. They put us in touch with Jeffrey Newton who has been homeless or in shelters most all his life, from boy’s homes, to reformatories, to prison by age 17. Then he moved out on the streets, where every day he goes “trailblazing” — looking for food, shelter, work, the resources he needs to make it through the day.
Jeffry learned to cook from his grandmother. He feels an urge to cook, especially for other people — under the overpass on Chicago’s Wacker Drive; on a George Foreman Grill plugged into a power pole; with a hot clothing iron to toast a grilled cheese sandwich.
Pat Sherman lived for quite some time in SROs with no kitchen, where cooking was forbidden. She now has a home and works in Glide’s Memorial Church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. Sherman was quite ingenious when it came to cooking. Her Crock-Pot doubled as a flower pot — nothing that would arouse suspicion. When nobody was around to check, she would slow-cook her beans while she went to school, then come home to a hot meal.
Rank #17: 57 – War and Peace and Coffee
“Nobody can soldier without coffee,” a Union calvary man wrote in 1865. Hidden Kitchens looks at three American wars through the lens of coffee: the Civil War, Vietnam and Afghanistan. And an interview with Anastacia Marx de Salcedo author of “Combat Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat.”
The Civil War: War, freedom, slavery, secession, union – these are some of the big themes you might expect to find in the diaries of Civil War soldiers. At least, that’s what Jon Grinspan, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, assumed when he began digging through war journals in the nation’s Civil War archives. “I went looking for the big stories,” Grinspan says. “And all they kept talking about was the coffee they had for breakfast, or the coffee they wanted to have for breakfast.”
The Vietnam War: Coffee may have powered the Union army during the Civil War, but during the Vietnam War, it fueled the GI anti-war movement. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, as soldiers returning from Vietnam began to question the U.S. role in the war, GI coffeehouses sprung up in military towns outside bases across the country. They became a vital gathering place. Oleo Strut, Fort Hood, TX, Shelter Half, Tacoma, Washington, the Green Machine outside Camp Pendleton, San Diego; Mad Anthony Wayne’s, Waynesville, Mo., outside Fort Leonard, to name a few. As the anti-war movement heated up, these coffeehouses became places where GIs could get legal counseling on issues like going AWOL and obtaining conscientious objector status, and learn about ways to protest the war.
Afghanistan: “ The military runs on coffee,” says Harrison Suarez, co-founder of Compass Coffee in Washington DC. “The Marines especially. It’s this ritual.” Suarez and Michael Haft, who started Compass together, first became friends in the Marines over coffee learning how to navigate with a map and compass.
As the war in Afghanistan intensified, both Suarez and Haft deployed there with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. One of their missions was to help develop the local police force and army. The two men tried to bond with their new Afghan partners over coffee, but the Afghans weren’t having it. The Afghan culture is much more about tea. Regardless of what was in the cups, the experience of gathering together over a hot drink and “taking time to develop a rapport with your partners that you are fighting alongside holds the same.”
This story is part of the Hidden Kitchens series “Kimchi Diplomacy: War and Peace and Food.”
Rank #18: 118 - The Nation's 10th Keeper—David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States
“From the very beginning the intent was that the American people needed to be able to access the records so that we would be able to hold the government accountable for its actions.” David Ferriero
We talk with David Ferriero, the 10th Archivist of the United States, about the the beginnings of the National Archives under Franklin Roosevelt, stories of early “Keepers” like Stephen Pleasonton, a brave civil servant who saved the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as the British burned Washington during the War of 1812, and the Map Thief who utilized dental floss to steal treasures from presidential libraries and special collections.
Ferriero talks of some of his favorite artifacts in the National Archives — a letter from Fidel Castro to President Roosevelt requesting a $10 dollar bill, and a letter from Annie Oakley to William McKinley volunteering to rally 50 women sharp shooters to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
Selected as Archivist of the United States in 2010 by President Obama during the time of his Open Government Initiative, Ferriero has worked to make the system more transparent and accessible to the public. He talks about his early career and influences — from his first library experiences in a tiny branch housed in a flower shop in North Beverley Massachusetts, to serving as Director of the New York Public Library.
With a collection of about 13 billion pieces of paper, 43 million photographs and miles and miles of film and video and about 6 billion electronic records, Ferriero believes “we are responsible for documenting what is going on.” He says, “I think my favorite times are twice a year when we do naturalization ceremonies in the Rotunda and between 50 and 200 new citizens are sworn in in front of the Constitution. Just to see them experiencing the documents outlining the rights that are now theirs. Those are powerful moments.”
Rank #19: 34 – The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski
Michael Baronowski was a 19-year-old Marine when he landed in Vietnam in 1966. He brought with him a reel-to-reel tape recorder and used it to record audio letters for his family back in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He was killed in action in 1967. Produced by Jay Allison & Christina Egloff as part of Lost & Found Sound.
Rank #20: 35 – Way To Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake
Nick Drake was a British singer songwriter from the early 1970s. His music has attracted a passionate, loyal following and influenced countless musicians. He’s often called a musician’s musician. But during his brief musical career he had little commercial success. Shy and private, Nick was never great on stage – but his guitar playing was brilliant and his songs were beautiful, melancholy, compelling. For years, he suffered from serious depression, and on November 25, 1974 he overdosed on anti-depressants. Thirty years after his death, Drake’s producer, Joe Boyd, gathered a group of musicians to pay tribute to Drake in a series of concerts and an accompanying record. In this episode of Fugitive Waves we go behind the scenes, into rehearsals, sound checks, and the making of Way to Blue: the Songs of Nick Drake.