American Memory Collections: Sound Recordings

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After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Description: This collection contains twelve hours of opinions recorded following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from over two hundred individuals across the United States.

American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I and the 1920 Election

Description: The Nation's Forum Collection from the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division consists of fifty-nine sound recordings of speeches by American leaders at the turn of the century. The speeches focus on issues and events surrounding the First World War and the subsequent presidential election of 1920.

The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920

Description: A multimedia anthology selected from various Library of Congress holdings. This collection illustrates the vibrant and diverse forms of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville, that thrived from 1870-1920. Included are 334 English- and Yiddish-language playscripts, 146 theater playbills and programs, 61 motion pictures, 10 sound recordings and 143 photographs and 29 memorabilia items documenting the life and career of Harry Houdini.

Band Music from the Civil War Era

Description: This collection makes available examples of a brilliant style of brass band music that flourished in the 1850s in the United States and remained popular through the nineteenth century. Bands of this kind served in the armies of both the North and the South during the Civil War. The collection includes both printed and manuscript music (mostly in the form of "part books" for individual instruments) and features over 700 musical compositions, as well as 8 full-score modern editions and 19 recorded examples of brass band music in performance.

Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982

Description: This collection presents 41 motion pictures and 28 sound recordings that tell the story of life and work on the Ninety-Six Ranch and of its cowboys, known in the region as buckaroos. An archive of 2,400 still photographs portrays the people, sites, and traditions on other ranches and in the larger community of Paradise Valley, home to persons of Anglo-American, Italian, German, Basque, Swiss, Northern Paiute Indian, and Chinese heritage. Motion pictures produced from 1945 to 1965 by Leslie Stewart, owner of the Ninety-Six Ranch, are also included. Background texts provide historical and cultural context for this distinctive Northern Nevada ranching community.

California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell

Description: The WPA California Folk Music Project is a multi-format ethnographic field collection that includes sound recordings, still photographs, drawings, and written documents from a variety of European ethnic and English- and Spanish-speaking communities in Northern California. The collection comprises 35 hours of folk music recorded in twelve languages representing numerous ethnic groups and 185 musicians.

Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry

Description: Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry is a selection of more than 400 items from the Emile Berliner Papers and 108 Berliner sound recordings from the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Berliner (1851-1929) was responsible for the development of the microphone and the flat recording disc and gramophone player. Spanning the years 1870 to 1956, the collection comprises correspondence, articles, lectures, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, catalogs, clippings, experiment notes, and rare sound recordings.

Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection

Description: This is a multi-format ethnographic field collection of traditional fiddle tunes performed by Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia. Recorded by folklorist Alan Jabbour in 1966-67, when Reed was over eighty years old, the tunes represent the music and evoke the history and spirit of Virginia's Appalachian frontier. Many of the tunes have passed back into circulation during the fiddling revival of the later twentieth century. This online collection incorporates 184 original sound recordings, 19 pages of fieldnotes, and 69 musical transcriptions with descriptive notes on tune histories and musical features; an illustrated essay about Reed's life, art, and influence; a list of related publications; and a glossary of musical terms.

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942

Description: Florida Folklife is a multiformat ethnographic field collection documenting African-American, Arabic, Bahamian, British-American, Cuban, Greek, Italian, Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic cultures throughout Florida. It features folksongs and folktales in many languages, including blues and work songs from menhaden fishing boats, railroad gangs, and turpentine camps; children's songs, dance music, and religious music of many cultures; and interviews, also known as "life histories."

Hispano Music & Culture from the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection

Description: A presentation of a multi-format ethnographic field collection documenting religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. In 1940, Juan Bautista Rael of Stanford University, a native of Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, used disc recording equipment supplied by the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center) to document alabados (hymns), folk drama, wedding songs, and dance tunes. In addition to these recordings, the collection includes manuscript materials and publications by Rael which provide insight into the rich musical heritage and cultural traditions of this region.

"I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations

Description: The collection brings together approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files from each of the 63 inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to George W. Bush's in 2001. This presentation includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music. The collection has been organized chronologically by presidential inauguration and an effort has been made to offer a balanced number of items for each inaugural event.

Inventing Entertainment: the Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies

Description: This site features 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other related materials, such as photographs and original magazine articles. Cylinder sound recordings will be added to this site in the near future. In addition, histories are given of Edison's involvement with motion pictures and sound recordings, as well as a special page focusing on the life of the great inventor.

"Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943

Description: The collection consists of approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and gospel songs, and related documentation from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia. Also included are recordings made in Tennessee and Alabama (including six Sacred Harp songs) recorded between September 1938 and 1941.

Omaha Indian Music

Description: Omaha Indian Music features traditional Omaha music from the 1890s and 1980s. The multi format ethnographic field collection contains 44 wax cylinder recordings collected between 1895 and 1897, 323 songs and speeches from the 1983 Omaha harvest celebration pow-wow, and 25 songs and speeches from the 1985 Hethu'shka Society concert at the Library of Congress. Segments from interviews with members of the Omaha tribe conducted in 1983 and 1999 provide contextual information for the songs and speeches. Supplementing the collection are black-and-white and color photographs taken during the 1983 pow-wow and the 1985 concert.

Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Description: This collection assembles a wide array of Library of Congress source materials from the 1920s that document the widespread prosperity of the Coolidge years, the nation's transition to a mass consumer economy, and the role of government in this transition. It includes nearly 200 selections from twelve collections of personal papers and two collections of institutional papers from the Manuscript Division; 74 books, pamphlets, and legislative documents from the General Collections, along with selections from 34 consumer and trade journals; 181 photographs from the pictorial materials of the National Photo Company Collection held by the Prints and Photographs Division; and 5 short films and 7 audio selections of Coolidge speeches from the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division. The collection is particularly strong in advertising and mass-marketing materials and will be of special interest to those seeking to understand economic and political forces at work in the 1920s.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996

Description: The collection showcases materials from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (1978) and the Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest Collection (1992, 1994, 1996). Together these provide a glimpse into America's diverse quilting traditions. The Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project, an ethnographic field project conducted by the American Folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service, includes 229 photographs and 181 recorded interviews with six quiltmakers in Appalachian North Carolina and Virginia. These materials document quilts and quilting within the context of daily life and reflect a range of backgrounds, motivations, and aesthetic sensibilities. The Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest collection includes images of approximately 180 winning quilts from across the United States. The collection represents a wide range of quiltmaking, from highly traditional to innovative, and the quilts pictured exhibit excellent design and technical skill in a variety of styles and materials.

Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip

Description: A multi-format ethnographic field collection that includes approximately 700 sound recordings, as well as photographic prints, fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other manuscripts documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States collecting folksongs. John Avery Lomax and his wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, recorded approximately 25 hours of music from more than 332 performers. These recordings represent a broad spectrum of musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs.

Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

Description: The collection incorporates 958 excerpts from original sound recordings and 1,270 photographs documenting traditional uses of the mountains in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley. Functioning as a de facto commons, the mountains have supported a way of life that for many generations has entailed hunting, gathering, and subsistence gardening, as well as coal mining and timbering. The collection includes extensive interviews on native forest species and the seasonal round of traditional harvesting (including spring greens; summer berries and fish; and fall nuts, roots such as ginseng, fruits, and game) and documents community cultural events such as storytelling, baptisms in the river, cemetery customs, and the spring "ramp" feasts.

Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film

Description: Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to have his career and life chronicled on a large scale by motion picture companies. This presentation features 104 films which record events in Roosevelt's life from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to his death in 1919. Besides containing scenes of Roosevelt, these films include views of world figures, politicians, monarchs, and friends and family members of Roosevelt who influenced his life and the era in which he lived. Four sound recordings made by Roosevelt for the Edison Company in 1912 in which he states his progressive political views are also included.

Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories

Description: These interviews, conducted between 1932 and 1975, capture the recollections of twenty-three identifiable people born between 1823 and the early 1860s and known to have been former slaves. The almost seven hours of recordings were made in nine Southern states and provide an important glimpse of what life was like for slaves and freedmen.

Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941

Description: The collection is an online presentation of a multi-format ethnographic field collection documenting the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941. This collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera generated during two separate documentation trips supported by the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center).

Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting

Description: This collection features interview excerpts and photographs from the Working in Paterson Folklife Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The four-month study of occupational culture in Paterson, New Jersey, was conducted in 1994. Founded in the 1790s by Alexander Hamilton and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), Paterson harnessed the power of the Great Falls on the Passaic River to become the largest silk manufacturing center in North America, as well as a leader in other types of manufacturing, from railroads to rifles. The documentary materials presented in this online collection explore how this industrial heritage expresses itself in Paterson today: in its work sites, work processes, and memories of workers. The online presentation also includes interpretive essays exploring such topics as work in the African-American community, a distinctive food tradition (the Hot Texas Wiener), the ethnography of a single work place (Watson Machine International), business life along a single street in Paterson (21st Avenue), and narratives told by retired workers.