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Reel to reel tape recorder used by the Manx Museum Folk Life Survey for recording Manx speakers

Date made: mid 20th century

Maker: Thermionic Products

Description: A 1950s(?) reel to reel tape recorder made by Thermionic Products Limited, London and believed to have been used by the Manx Museum Folk Life Survey recorders to record Manx Gaelic speech and dialect using paper tapes.

Polished wooden cabinet with bakelite fittings and original three pin plug with round pins.

Found in the Folk Life Survey room in the Manx Museum Library basement. The machine was donated to the Museum by the Rev Fred Mathias Cubbon.

The aim of the Folk Life Survey (FLS) was to 'record as much as possible of the life and crafts of the Manx community before the present century' (Manx Museum & National Trust Report, 1950). The Survey was to 'build up a picture of Manx traditional life as it survived fifty years ago, and earlier. We aim to gather a mass of unrecorded information about buildings, crafts, tools and utensils, agriculture and fishing, dress and ornament, customs and beliefs, together with details of the people then alive and incidents in their life. Following the lead of pioneer workers in Scandinavia, we have adopted the name 'Folk-Life' as the best compendious term to define the scope of this Survey. We are not concerned with the formal and official aspect of the Island's past history, with the laws and constitution, public events and historical figures. This is material that has been adequately collected and written about already' (Manx Folk-Life Survey: Its scope and outline of material, FLS).

Mr Leslie Quirk undertook the beginning of this systematic collection, with approximately thirty recruited volunteers. The volunteers would meet at intervals to discuss their work with Museum representatives, and an eight-page prospectus defining the scope of the Survey was issued in November to help the collectors. The voluntary team of collectors travelled the Isle of Man interviewing contributors, making field notes and occasional tape-recordings, and then indexing to create an archive of memories and stories about the Isle of Man. Notable collectors included Charles Clarke, Eric Cregeen, Mrs Catherine E. Flanagan, Mr Neil Mathieson, Miss J. Margaret Stevenson, Mrs Grace Quilliam, Ms J. Quilliam, and Miss I. Margaret Killip.

Many of the recordings made by the Folk Life Survey have been digitised as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project and are available to listen to on

Materials: bakelite, wood

Object name: tape recorder

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2011-0116

Subject tags : #MM100COLLECTIONS


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This is the Thermionic Prodicts Ltd. Soundmirror recorder of c.1951, technical details and images can be found at - Ian Radcliffe Report this