Over the years many famous men and women have recorded Talking Books at the American Foundation for the Blind. Politicians, actors, philosophers, and novelists have recorded their own work as well as the work of others. One of AFB's most prolific and best- loved narrators was the actor Alexander Scourby [1913 - 1985]. Scourby recorded more than 800 titles from the late 1930s until 1985, including the Bible and War and Peace, as well as bulletins from Europe on behalf of the American Foundation for Overseas Blind (AFOB), now Helen Keller International.
In 1986 AFB created the Alexander Scourby Awards to recognize excellence in the field of Talking Book narration. Scourby thought his work with Talking Books was some of the most important of his career:
... the work in my life, with almost no exception, that has given me the greatest gratification has been what I've done at the Foundation for the Blind in New York reading talking books.
... To compare a letter that one gets from the Foundation for the Blind, from some blind persons in California, or the State of Washington, or Minnesota with the letter that you'll get from somebody who saw you on [a] TV show the other day is really to see night and day. One moves you, touches you tremendously and the other is "gee, I think you are a great actor, will you send me a picture?" that sort of thing. There are exceptions, of course, but the mail that one gets from the readers of the talking books all over the United States is perhaps the most satisfying mail that any actor can get ...
Each thumbnail in this gallery represents a different narrator who has recorded at AFB. Click on the thumbnail to view images, and to bring up a list of titles that narrators have recorded. Many narrators recorded far more titles than are listed here. Audio clips are currently available for Alexander Scourby, Maya Angelou, and Eva LeGallienne. The grainy sound of these recordings has been retained for authenticity.