|Photo by AbLib|
As a librarian, one of the highlights of my life was when I was in graduate school and we took a field trip to DC. The field trip was actually to attend the National Book Festival, held every year on the Mall, but our first stop of the day was at the Library of Congress. We were given a tour and then we had a Q&A session with three librarians from the LoC in the Senate Reading Room (which is, obviously, generally reserved for Senators therefore awesome to hang out in).
I bring this up to illustrate how awesome the LoC is because, they have outdone themselves. They have created the National Jukebox making historic recordings freely available to the public. The digital collection contains recordings from the LoC Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation collection as well as collections from other institutions across the country.
There are (as of this post) over 10,000 recordings from 1901-1925 from the Victor Talking Machine Company (now owned by Sony). The Jukebox will continue to add content from Sony-owned US companies. Right now, Sony is the only label contributing, but I’m sure we will see more joining up in the future.
There is a fantastic slideshow available tracking the progress of the project which began in 2010.
The Jukebox lets you create a playlist or listen to playlists already completed (I’m listening to the LoC-created “Early Tin Pan Alley” playlist right now!). You can browse recordings by performer, genre, date, composer, etc. plus there are general and advanced search options.
It is beautifully designed and completely fascinating. Set aside some time to browse these nearly forgotten treasures.