The Library of Congress holds the nation's largest public collection of sound
recordings (music and spoken word) and radio broadcasts, some 3 million recordings
in all. Recordings represent over 110 years of sound recording history in nearly
every sound recording format and cover a wide range of subjects and genres
in considerable depth and breadth.
The collection includes over 500,000 LPs; 450,000 78-rpm discs; over 500,000
unpublished discs; 200,000 compact discs; 175,000 tape reels; 150,000 45-rpm
discs; and 75,000 cassettes. Among the unusual formats in the collection are
wires, instantaneous discs, cylinders, music box discs, rolls, bands, dictabelts,
and Memovox discs.
The collection incudes most musical genres with particular strength in opera,
chamber music, folk, jazz, musical theater, popular, and classical.
LC's collection contains more radio broadcasts (over .5 million) than any
other library or archive in the United States. A sampling of prominent collections
Collection150,000 sixteen-inch lacquer discs from the 1930s-1980s, including tens of thousands of World War II-related broadcasts
- Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) 300,000 twelve- and sixteen-inch discs from1942-1998
- Office of War Information
(OWI) over 50,000 instantaneous lacquer discs from
- National Public Radio (NPR) The cultural programming
portions of NPR broadcasts, 27,000 tapes from 1971-1992
- Voice of America (VOA) Over 50,000 discs and
tapes of musical event broadcasts dating from 1946-1988
- WOR-AM Collection Flagship station of the Mutual
Broadcasting Network located in New York City. Collection includes several
instantaneous transcription discs, the paper archives of WOR, as
well as an outstanding group of materials relating to the radio career
A selection of the significant specific collections follows:
- Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature Several thousand
recordings of notable authors reading their own works in the recording studios
and Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress
- Music Division Coolidge Auditorium Concert Series Chamber
music recordings from the renowned Library of Congress concert series,
beginning in1937 and highlighted by the Library's resident ensembles: The
String Quartet, The Juilliard String Quartet, and The Beaux Arts Trio
- Emile Berliner Collection A selection of recordings
representing the Berliner Gramophone Company and the work of Emile Berliner,
the Gramophone disc and the microphone, and founded the disc recording
industry. The collection includes manuscripts, scrapbooks, and photographs
to the career of Berliner, contributed by his descendants.
- Jerry Valburn/Duke Ellington Collection A comprehensive
collection of Duke Ellington recordings, including unpublished recordings
as well as nearly every known commerical recording by band leader/composer.
- Karl Bambach/John McCormack Collection Comprehensive
gathering of this famous Irish-born tenor's recordings.
- Maud Powell Collection Recordings of this well
known, turn-of the-century American violinist comprehensively collected
Maud Powell Foundation
- Nesuhi Ertegun/Jelly Roll Morton Collection Every
recording of this early New Orleans-style jazz pianist and composer.
- Robert Altshuler and Frederick Klinger Collections Two
of the largest private collections of recordings received by the Library
to date some 260,000 recordings (1917-1985) of most classic blues and
jazz artists recorded during the 78 rpm and Lp eras.
- John Secrist Collection 2,800 commercial classical
music releases, primarily operatic, from 1902 to 1925. Nearly complete
commercial releases of Enrico Caruso and Rosa Ponselle, as well as
acoustic recordings of Suzanne Adams, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, and Giovanni
- Joel Berger Collection Rare recordings of over
forty Imperial Russian Opera singers
One of the world's foremost collections of jazz recordings, often with associated
scores, manuscripts, photographs. Artists' collections include:
Special collections which include the personal sound recordings of such musical
Recordings: The Library's American Memory pages include many collections
featuring recordings that can be heard online.