The Library of Congress Launches The National Jukebox

The Library of Congress announced just over a week ago that it has launched The National Jukebox – made up of digital recordings of over 10,000 sound recordings from the past. The collection, dating from 1901 to 1925, includes music as well as spoken-word recordings. This brings back many memories, as at one time I owned an old upright Edison record player with dozens of old records, all of which must have been 3/8th of an inch thick or more. Ah, the sounds enjoyed by our ancestors…

Following is the news release from the Library of Congress:

Library of Congress Launches, with Sony Music Content, the National Jukebox, an Online Destination for Historical Sound Recordings Largest Collection of Historical Recordings Ever Made Publically Available Online.

The German's Arrival, performed by Frank Wilson, with Orchestra - Click on the image to go directly to the digitized recording.

The Library of Congress and Sony Music Entertainment today unveiled a new website of over 10,000 rare historic sound recordings available to the public for the first time digitally. The site is called the “National Jukebox” (www.loc.gov/jukebox/).

Developed by the Library of Congress, with assets provided by Sony Music Entertainment, the National Jukebox offers free online access to a vast selection of music and spoken-word recordings produced in the U.S. between the years 1901 and 1925.

The website was launched at a Library news conference featuring an appearance by Grammy-winning pianist, singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. The Columbia recording artist performed the song “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” which is on the site performed by composer Eubie Blake.

“This amazing collection is a chance to hear history,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who joined Connick and officials of Sony Music Entertainment at the press event. “This collection includes popular music, dance music, opera, early jazz, famous speeches, poetry and humor. It is what our grandparents and great-grandparents listened to, danced to, sang along with. This brings online one of the most explosively creative periods in American culture and music and one of the finest additions to the Library’s American Memory materials.”

“We are thrilled to be joining with the Library of Congress to launch the National Jukebox,” said Richard Story, President, Commercial Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment. “As the steward of much of the output from the American recording industry prior to 1934, Sony Music is excited to preserve and share online these important cultural treasures from its archives with students, historians, and music-lovers alike, and create new audiences for and appreciators of the many extraordinary works from the pre-1925 era.”

The agreement for the National Jukebox grants the Library of Congress usage rights to Sony Music’s entire pre-1925 catalog—comprising thousands of recordings produced by Columbia Records, OKeh, and Victor Talking Machine Co. among others – and represents the largest collection of such historical recordings ever made publicly available for study and appreciation online.

Works by Fletcher Henderson, Al Jolson, George M. Cohan, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Alberta Hunter, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leopold Stokowski, Arturo Toscanini, and opera stars Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba and Geraldine Farrar are all covered, as are such original recordings as the Paul Whiteman Concert Orchestra’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with George Gershwin on piano, and Nora Bayes’ “Over There.”

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