About the Reference Center
In the 1920s, the sound recording archive began when phonorecord
companies gave the Library samples of their records. About the same
time, the Library's Archive of American Folksong started assembling
a rich collection of original field recordings of American music
A grant from the Carnegie Corporation in 1940 started the Library's
Recording Laboratory. Later, technological advances in the post-war
years--the LP in 1948, and later the tape recorder-- boosted the
sound recordings collections by generating commercial and personal
materials. The Library's audio collections are now the largest in
the United States and among the most comprehensive in the world.
NBC Radio's broadcast discs, 1935 to 1970, brought to the Library
radio coverage of the Depression, World War II, post-war recovery,
and a rich mine of radio drama and comedy. Armed Forces Radio, the
WOR-AM collection, United Nations recordings, and the Library's
own concerts and literary recordings further broaden the collections.
Now, the recorded sound archive reflects the entire history of sound
technology, from the first wax cylinders, through LPs and tape,
to the latest compact audio discs.
See also: Guidelines for Listening
to Recordings and Locating Sound