1. To provide an introduction to the sit-down strike for those students or members of the general public who are unaware of the history of this momentous event in American history.
  2. To provide an immediacy and personal touch to this historical knowledge through the use of digitized audio files, which contain the actual voices of former sit-downers reminiscing about their experiences.
  3. To make a site that was usable on several levels of interactivity, with information and sound files accessible through several different galleries, a Flash-generated map, a timeline, and various search functions.
  4. To preserve the interviews done by Leighton etal. in a form that was relatively permanent and easily accessible.


The site has been designed around the general idea of providing diversified, nonlinear access to digital audio content. Users can choose from a number of different modes of presentation, including audio essays, a timeline, strike map , and a user-friendly, yet very accurate search engine. Whatever the direction the users take, they should always be able to quickly access the audiovisual content of the site. However, each distinct mode of presentation tells the Sit-Down Strike story from a different perspective. For example, the site map focuses on the location of strike events, while the timeline offers a temporal vantage point.


Digital audio technology

Matrix has used modern digital audio technology to build this website. We have developed a set of custom methodologies for the acquisition, processing, and delivery of acoustic speech signals. These methodologies are a result of 2 years of vigorous research by a group of audio engineers, historians, speech scientists, and computer programmers.

The original analog cassette recordings were restored and digitized at 96 KHz/24 bit by means of high-quality stand-alone A/D converters. The delivery copies (downsampled to 22 KHz/16 bit) were processed with a variety of DSP techniques to reduce noise, increase dynamic rannge and maximize volume. The PCM files were encoded with the RealAudio G2 psychoacoustic codec at the 16 Kbps bitrate.

The technologies we have developed are freely available to other educational and academic organizations.


Most of the site content is dynamic. We have used the following technologies:

KORA - all of our metadata is stored in a Kora database
PHP - all of the site's dynamic content is created with PHP
Flash - the interactive Site Map was designed with Flash and ActionScript

Metadata and system architecture


Matrix has used the METS standard for metadata encoding and storage. METS is a flexible metadata schema for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata for analog and digital objects associated with a digital library. MATRIX has collaborated with the Library of Congress, Harvard, Berkley, California Digital Library, University of Virginia, NYU, and MIT in the development of the METS schema. All of our metadata is stored in a MYSQL database that provides the functionality of METS and the XML Schema Language as well as the ability to easily produce METS XML files in the future.

Server technology

The site is served from an Apache web server running on a Linux Debian machine.


White papers

Best pracitices in the acquisition, processing, and delivery of acoustic speech signals (PDF)
Matrix audio digitization methodologies (PDF).



Created with support from the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities