Stream Historical Recordings With the Library of Congress’ National Jukebox Project

May 12, 2011

10:36 am

It is truly amazing what technology can do.  Yesterday, the Library of Congress introduced the National Jukebox, which provides free access to more than 10,000 historical recordings on a streaming-only basis (no downloads).

As one might expect, this project was long and involved, as it included a painstaking process to digitize 78rpm records from the first quarter of the twentieth century.  It isn’t limited to music, though; the project includes poetry, political speeches and other spoken word recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company, which Sony controls, as well as recordings from the vast collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives.

You can browse the collection by artist, genre, or, to make it a little less daunting, playlists that range from Early Tin Pan Alley to Sousa’s Band in Concert.

The project is also a collaboration with the University of California, Santa Barbara and its Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Records, which is helping to create a searchable database for every recording in the National Jukebox.

This initial launch is only the start of what will ultimately be a huge trove of recordings.  New recordings are added every month, and later this year the National Jukebox team will begin digitizing recordings from additional record labels, including Columbia and Okeh, and selected master recordings from the Library of Congress Universal Music Group Collection.

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Monika Jansen is a writer and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, newsletters, website content, and other materials. Follow her at: @monikacjansen

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