Stream 385,000 Vintage 78 RPM Records at the Internet Archive: Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday & More

We may have yet to devel­op the tech­nol­o­gy of time trav­el, but record­ed music comes pret­ty close. Those who lis­ten to it have expe­ri­enced how a song or an album can, in some sense, trans­port them right back to the time they first heard it. But old­er records also have the much stranger pow­er to con­jure up eras we nev­er expe­ri­enced. You can musi­cal­ly send your­self as far back as the nine­teen-twen­ties with the above Youtube playlist of dig­i­tized 78 RPM records from the George Blood col­lec­tion.

George Blood is the head of the audio-visu­al dig­i­ti­za­tion com­pa­ny George Blood Audio, which has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Inter­net Archive’s Great 78 Project. “The brain­child of the Archive’s founder, Brew­ster Kahle, the project is ded­i­cat­ed to the preser­va­tion and dis­cov­ery of 78rpm records,” writes The Vinyl Fac­to­ry’s Will Pritchard.

The piece quotes Blood him­self as say­ing that his com­pa­ny has been dig­i­tiz­ing five to six thou­sand records per month with the ambi­tious goal of cre­at­ing a “ref­er­ence col­lec­tion of sound record­ings from the peri­od of approx­i­mate­ly 1880 to 1960.” He said that five years ago. Today, the Inter­net Archive’s George Blood col­lec­tion con­tains more than 385,000 records free to stream and down­load.

The 78 hav­ing been the most pop­u­lar record­ed-music for­mat in the first few decades of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, George Blood L.P. and the Great 78 Pro­ject as a whole have had plen­ty of mate­r­i­al to work with. In the large archive built up so far you’ll find plen­ty of obscu­ri­ties — the Youtube playlist at the top of the post can get you acquaint­ed with the likes of Eric Whit­ley and the Green Sis­ters, Tin Ear Tan­ner and His Back Room Boys, and Dou­glas Ven­able and His Bar X Ranch Hands — but also the work of musi­cians who remain beloved today. For the 78 was the medi­um through which many lis­ten­ers enjoyed the big-band hit of Glenn Miller, or dis­cov­ered jazz as per­formed by leg­ends like Louis Arm­strong and Bil­lie Hol­i­day. To know their music most inti­mate­ly, one would per­haps have need­ed to hear them in the actu­al nine­teen-thir­ties, but this is sure­ly the next best thing.

Relat­ed con­tent:

How the Inter­net Archive Has Dig­i­tized More than 250,000 78 R.P.M. Records: See the Painstak­ing Process Up-Close

Mas­sive Archive of 78RPM Records Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online: Stream 78,000 Ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry Records from Around the World

200,000+ Vin­tage Records Being Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Boston Pub­lic Library

Rare Ara­bic 78 RPM Records Enter the Pub­lic Domain

Down­load 10,000 of the First Record­ings of Music Ever Made, Cour­tesy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-San­ta Bar­bara

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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