May 16, 2002 Two Online Collections Debut on the Library's Web Site

Birth of the Recording Industry and Ohio River Valley Are Subjects

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

Two collections of materials from the Library of Congress and other institutions have been added to the 100 collections now available from the American Memory Web site, which freely offers more than 7.5 million items at

"Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry" is a selection of more than 400 items from the Emile Berliner Papers and 108 Berliner sound recordings from the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Berliner (1851-1929), an immigrant and a largely self-educated man, was responsible for the development of the microphone and the flat recording disc and gramophone player. Although the focus of this online collection is on the gramophone and its recordings, it includes much evidence of Berliner's other interests, such as information on his businesses, crusades for public-health issues, philanthropy, musical composition and even his poetry. Spanning the years 1870 to 1956, the collection comprises correspondence, articles, lectures, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, catalogs, clippings, experiment notes and rare sound recordings.

"The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820" consists of 15,000 pages of original historical material documenting the land, peoples, exploration and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West from the mid-18th to the early 19th century. The collection is drawn from the holdings of the University of Chicago Library and the Filson Historical Society of Louisville, Ky. Among the sources included are books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, scientific publications, broadsides, letters, journals, legal documents, ledgers and other financial records, maps, physical artifacts and pictorial images. The collection documents the travels of the first Europeans to enter the trans-Appalachian West, the maps tracing their explorations, their relations with Native Americans and their theories about the region's mounds and other ancient earthworks. Naturalists and other scientists describe Western bird life and bones of prehistoric animals. Books and letters document the new settlers' migration and acquisition of land, navigation down the Ohio River, planting of crops and trade in tobacco, horses and whiskey. Leaders from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to Isaac Shelby, William Henry Harrison, Aaron Burr and James Wilkinson comment on politics and regional conspiracies. Documents also reveal the lives of trans-Appalachian African Americans, nearly all of them slaves; the position of women; and the roles of churches, schools and other institutions.

"The First American West" online presentation is made possible by a grant from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. More than 33 institutions nationwide have benefited from this three-year program, which concluded in 1999.

American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. Its more than 100 collections -- which range from papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards -- include more than 7.5 million items from the collections of the Library and those of other major repositories.

The latest Web site from the Library is aimed at kids and families. The colorful and interactive "America's Library" ( invites users to "Log On ... Play Around ... Learn Something."


PR 02-068
ISSN 0731-3527