The National Jukebox

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So the Beatles sang Get Back. 1969 not far enough back? How’d you like to get way back?

I was looking at the Library of Congress’s digital collections and I ran across the National Jukebox. It is a collection of historical sound recordings available for streaming free of charge. The jukebox includes more than 10,000 78rpm records made between the years of 1901 and 1925. If you like the blues, humorous songs, musical theater, classical, ethnic, folk/country music, ragtime or jazz music, this is a real find.

You may search the collection for specific genres, songs, composers, artists, or you can play one of their featured playlists. On the site now they have a playlist featuring music about rivers: Swanee, Beautiful Ohio, On the Mississippi, The Blue Danube…nice. The collection also includes spoken word performances, such as this reading of Casey at the Bat. Their group of playlists makes a good entry point for the collection.

They come with this disclaimer: “These selections are presented as part of the record of the past. They are historical documents which reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these recordings, which may contain content offensive to users.” As such, they provide an interesting, if sometimes uncomfortable, window into America’s soul and our history.

Enjoy these astonishing landmarks of American cultural archaeology, these time travels into musical genealogy. It’s fun, and, of course, I love the irony of streaming music created for Victrolas. If you prefer your music on CD, we have numerous incredible historical collections such as Anthology of American Folk Music (the famed Harry Smith collection) and Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens (featuring historical music of New Orleans). Find them or other similar titles at an SJCPL location near you.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this information Joe! I had no idea the Library of Congress made historic music available. Wow, what a fun, great resource!

  2. What a great find! I love the idea of listening to music from the early days of recording. I have a large collection of 78′s, but currently no way to play them. I’m definitely going to check this out.

  3. What a great resource! Thanks, Joe!

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