October 26, 2011
Links to Record Industry History Sites
For many years I have been reviewing recording-related websites in my “Current Bibliography” column in the ARSC Journal (www.arsc-audio.org). Described here are some that I believe to be most broadly useful, with an emphasis on informational sites about early recordings as opposed to dealer and special-interest sites. Please let me know if any of these links are broken, if a web address has changed or if I’ve missed a site that you think is particularly valuable.
One useful place to start is “The Phonograph Ring” (http://hub.webring.org/hub/phonograph/), a webring of about 150 sites dealing with “early phonographs, gramophones, 78s, cylinder records and recorded sound in general.” Many, however, are dealer sites. Most have links to other sites so once you start exploring you’ll be up all night.
Among the sites I’ve found useful are the following.
www.gracyk.com – An offshoot of California collector Tim Gracyk’s Victrola & 78 Journal, which published 13 issues between 1994-1998 before folding. Informative articles for beginners and experts alike. Although Gracyk says he’s not involved in collecting anymore, it remains one of the most visited sites for early phonograph subjects.
www.mainspringpress.com – Primarily a sales site (Mainspring Press publishes high quality discographies about the early record industry), however it also contains a substantial number of excellent articles and online discographies.
www.arsc-audio.org – The website of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, the leading society of record researchers. Includes a database of 40 years of articles appearing in the ARSC Journal. Many of these back issues are available online as pdf files.
http://www.78discography.com – Oregon collector Tyrone Settlemier’s huge “Online Discographical Project,” based largely on the work of Steve Abrams and containing discographies for about 140 labels from the 1920s to the 1950s. There are also articles on subjects ranging from the historic Black Swan label to The Mickey Mouse Wheaties Record (1952), and many links. Settlemier has his own informative site at www.proaxis.com/~settlet/record/record.html.
www.truesoundtransfers.de – The Truesound Online Discography Project, a collection of label discographies including Edison cylinders and discs, Odeon and International Zonophone. Claims more than 300,000 listings. Maintained by Christian Zwarg in Germany.
www.loc.gov/rr/record – The Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center site, with its rather-difficult-to-use SONIC online catalog of 100,000+ recordings, Jack Raymond’s “Show Music on Record” discography and other resources.
www.phonozoic.com – The website of acoustic-era phonograph researcher Patrick Feaster, with a library of over 100 primary documents, lists of phonograph patents, and links to many related resources on the web.
www.charm.rhul.ac.uk – The Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM) was established in 2004 as a partnership of Royal Holloway, University of London, King’s College, London and the University of Sheffield. Its aim is to promote the study of music through recordings, and its site contains a number of articles with more promised.
http://www.littlewonderrecords.com – Detailed information and graphics relating to the pioneering Little Wonder label (1914-1923), and the related Bubble Books, about which Merle Sprinzen and I wrote a book that is described elsewhere on this site. Contains audio of many Little Wonder issues.
http://www.loc.gov/jukebox – The Library of Congress National Jukebox, launched in 2011, allows streaming (only) of more than 10,000 pre-1925 recordings, through an agreement with Sony Music, which owns the copyrights. The total is expected to grow.
http://www.cylinders.library.ucsb.edu – A large, popular library of nearly 8,000 cylinder recordings (mostly Edison), available for listening or download. Maintained by the University of California-Santa Barbara.
http://www.nps.gov/edis/photosmultimedia/the-recording-archives.htm – More than 100 Edison cylinders, some extremely early, at the site for the Edison National Historic Park.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/berlhtml/berlhome.html – The Emile Berliner section of the big Library of Congress American Memory Site, with more than 100 Berliner recordings from the 1890s and other resources relating to the inventor of the disc record.
www.juneberry78s.com/sounds/index.htm – “The Roots Music Listening Room,” more than two thousand folk and blues recordings from the 1920s and 1930s.
www.archive.org/details/78rpm – Thousands of early 20th century recordings from Ada Jones to the Zonophone Orchestra, uploaded by fans and available for listening or download. Includes “the collected works of George W. Johnson” (only three titles however). Part of the Internet Archive.
http://www.collectionscanada.ca/gramophone/index-e.html – The Library and Archive Canada’s Virtual Gramophone. More than a thousand early 1900s recordings featuring Canadian artists, including those who recorded primarily in America such as Henry Burr and Harry Macdonough.
www.78online.com (78-L) – A discussion group devoted to music and recordings of the pre-LP era. As with most such discussion groups there is a certain amount of idle chatter, but most members are experts in early recordings and a great deal of information can be gleaned from the threads – if you’re patient!
www.arsc-audio.org (ARSCList) – A somewhat more professional list used primarily by experts in early sound restoration and archiving. Operated by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.
www.operadis-opera-discography.org.uk – A massive opera discography listing more than 15,000 opera recordings. Maintained by Brian Capon.
www.jerryjazzmusician.com – An online jazz magazine with articles and interviews, including one with me!
www.jazzdiscography.com – A collection of over 70 jazz discographies, mostly of lesser known artists (although Frank Sinatra’s in there). Maintained by Steve Albin and Michael Fitzgerald.
http://www.christerhamp.se/phono/ – “The Phonograph Makers Pages,” described as “a meeting ground and a source of inspiration for all makers of modern… cylinder players that give an electric output.” Many illustrations and technical specifications. To my surprise the earliest example cited is a simple set-up I wrote about in 1975 (christened here “The Brooks player”) in which the tone arm of a modern disc turntable is swiveled around to track the cylinder on an adjacent cylinder player instead. Most examples are far more advanced than that, however. Maintained by Christer Hamp in Sweden.
http://www.rojaro.com – “RoJaRo” (“Rock-Jazz-Roots”) is a huge index of articles and reviews in rock fan magazines, claiming nearly 1.5 million citations. Maintained by Kjetil Maria Aase in Norway.