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Save Our Sounds:America's Recorded Sound Heritage Project

Mountain Chief of the Blackfoot Tribe listens to a cylinder recording of a Blackfoot song made by Frances Densmore
Mountain Chief of the Blackfoot Tribe listens to a cylinder recording of a Blackfoot song made by Frances Densmore (left), 1906. Library of Congress.

A Save America's Treasures Project of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in the Smithsonian Institution are collaborating on a landmark project to preserve our audio heritage--irreplaceable recordings of America's music and the voices of her people.

The Save America's Treasures program of the White House Millenium Council has awarded a grant of $750,000 toward this effort, recognizing these recordings as irreplacable American treasures. We have eighteen months to raise $750,000 in matching funds. We hope that everyone, citizens, musicians, and cultural advocates everywhere, will support this crucial effort.

The archives at these two institutions include over 140,000 one-of-a-kind non-commercial field recordings of American stories, songs, poems, speech, and roots music from 1890 to the present. There are iconic recordings such as Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land and Leadbelly's Good Night Irene, and there are over a million other recordings from every state in the nation and many nations around the world.

With your help, Smithsonian and Library of Congress experts, working in concert, will recover, protect, and preserve the most endangered and priceless recordings from their collections.

This high-profile national project will bring the critical issue of sound preservation to the attention of the public and will help toward the preservation of recorded sound throughout the nation.

A video about the Save Our Sounds project narrated by Mickey Hart is available online at the Smithsonian's Save Our Sounds website.

The American Folklife Center provides presentations of selected ethnographic collections online, with recordings, images, and text, through the Library of Congress American Memory Project. These provide examples of the types of collections the Save Our Sounds project hopes to preserve.

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  April 27, 2005
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