UW–Madison Libraries Services during COVID–19

COVID–19 Library Dashboard
Learn more about updates to library services

Historical Sound Recordings and Field Recordings

A brief selection of sites where you may listen to and read about historical commercial sound recordings:

  • National Jukebox: Historical recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives
  • Internet Archive 78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings: A collection of digitized 78 rpm records and cylinder recordings contributed to the Internet Archive as part of The Great 78 Project
  • African-American Band Music & Recordings, 1883 to 1923: A Library of Congress Digital Collection that includes hundreds of recordings, as well as “stock” arrangements for bands or small orchestras of popular songs written by African Americans, short biographies of composers and performers of the time, and historical essays
  • Omaha Indian Music: A Library of Congress Digital Collection that includes 44 wax cylinder recordings made in the 1890s, as well as hundreds of songs and spoken-word segments from the 1983 Omaha harvest celebration pow-wow
  • UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive: Digital collection of more than 10,000 cylinder recordings held by the UC Santa Barbara Library, featuring all types of recordings made from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including popular songs, vaudeville acts, classical and operatic music, comedic monologues, ethnic and foreign recordings, speeches and readings
  • Belfer Cylinders Digital Connection: Digital audio files of over 1,600 cylinders in the Belfer Audio Archive at Syracuse University
  • Excavated Shellac: A website created and maintained by collector/researcher/writer Jonathan Ward, dedicated to sharing 78rpm recordings of folkloric and vernacular music from around the world

A brief selection of sites where you may listen to and read about field recordings:

  • ACE Online Archive – Sound Recordings: Alan Lomax’s original tape and disc archive, part of the Association for Cultural Equity’s ACE Online Archive, comprised of over 17,000 streaming audio recordings organized into 30 collections and totaling over 800 hours of music, stories and interviews
  • Alan Lomax Collection of Michigan and Wisconsin Recordings: Field recordings made in 1938 when the Library of Congress dispatched Lomax to conduct a folk song survey of the Great Lakes region
  • The Global Jukebox: A streaming media website that makes available to the general public all of the data and many of the analyses of the research into the expressive arts carried out under the direction of Alan Lomax and the anthropologist Conrad Arensberg from 1960 to 1995 at Columbia University and Hunter College/CUNY
  • Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection: A Library of Congress Digital Collection presenting an ethnographic field collection documenting religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado made in 1940 by Juan Bautista Rael of Stanford University