January 27, 2003 Librarian of Congress Names 50 Sound Recordings to the Inaugural National Recording Registry

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189, cdoo@loc.gov; Sheryl Cannady (202) 707-6456, scannady@loc.gov
Website: www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the first annual selection of 50 recordings to the National Recording Registry. Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian is responsible for selecting recordings annually that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Registry recordings must be at least 10 years old. Nominations for the registry were garnered from members of the public and from the National Recording Preservation Board, which is composed of leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound, and preservation. The Board also helped with the review of nominations.

In making the announcement of the registry, the Librarian stated, "The challenge of reviewing more than 100 years of the history of recorded sound in America and selecting only 50 significant recordings for the inaugural recording registry was formidable. The registry was not intended by Congress to be another Grammy Awards or 'best of' list. Rather, Congress created the registry to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio legacy and to underscore our responsibility to assure the long-term preservation of that legacy so that it may be appreciated and studied by generations to come. The creation of the registry is one part of the legislation that charges the Library of Congress with developing a comprehensive national recording preservation program, the very first of its kind. Acknowledging the inception of this significant responsibility, many of my first selections for the recording registry recognize important firsts in the history of recording in America: technical, musical, and cultural achievements."

The Librarian of Congress announced William Ivey as chairman of the board of directors of the National Recording Preservation Foundation. The foundation is a charitable and nonprofit corporation created by the Preservation Act to promote and ensure the preservation and public accessibility of the nation's sound recording heritage. The foundation will accept gifts and administer a grants program to support sound preservation in archives throughout the United States. Ivey is past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and presently Branscomb Scholar at Vanderbilt University. The Librarian hailed Ivey's long-term experience in promoting the preservation and accessibility of our cultural heritage.

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and the world's largest library, with more than 126 million items, including some 2.6 million sound recordings. The collection includes more than 500,000 LPs; 450,000 78-rpm discs; more than 500,000 unpublished discs, 200,000 compact discs; 175,000 tape reels; 150,000 45-rpm discs; and 100,000 cassettes.

Among the unusual formats in the collection are wires, instantaneous discs, cylinders, music box discs, rolls, bands, dictabelts, and Memovox discs. The collection includes most musical genres with particular strengths in opera, chamber music, folk, jazz, musical theater, popular, and classical music. There are more radio broadcasts (more than 500,000) preserved in the Library of Congress than in any other library or archives in the United States. The audio collections include NBC radio shows from 1933 to 1971 on 150,000 sixteen-inch lacquer discs; the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service collection of more than 200,000 discs of programs broadcast to America's armed forces from 1942 to the early 1990s; thousands of field recordings of Native Americans, ex-slaves, immigrants, urban voices and rural music; near- complete inventories of many commercial labels acquired through copyright deposit.

Additional highlights include a comprehensive collection of all of Duke Ellington's recordings, including unpublished recordings as well as nearly every known commercial recording, as well as every recording of the early New Orleans jazz pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton. More information on using this collection, as well as access to an electronic catalog of recordings and digitized selections, is available at www.loc.gov/rr/record/.

For more information, consult the National Recording Preservation Board Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb.

To see the complete list, visit https://www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/nrpb-2002reg.html


PR 03-014
ISSN 0731-3527