The Historical Collections (1899 -1950) of the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv
Documentary heritage submitted by Austria and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 1999.
The Vienna Phonogrammarchiv was the first sound archive in the world, founded in 1899 by members of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. During its almost 100 years of existence, the Phonogrammarchiv’s collections have grown to over 50.000 recorded items, amounting to approximately 7000 hours of material. The Phonogrammarchiv is one of the greater collections of universal coverage, which, with others, safeguards a considerable part of the worldwide heritage of orally transmitted cultures.
This nomination highlights the Historical Collections of the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv, 1899 - 1950. At that time sound recording in anthropological field work was complicated and technically demanding and therefore not as routine as it became after the introduction of portable magnetic recorders in the mid-fifties. The Viennese historical holdings contain over 4000 recordings of a mainly ethnolinguistic and ethnomusicological nature.
Together with the historical collections of the Berlin Phonogrammarchiv, they constitute one of the few early collections of phonographic field recordings of worldwide coverage reflecting stages of orally transmitted cultures before the impact of western civilization, some of which have become extinct since the time of recording, or have at least substantially changed. Many of these recordings are the oldest of their kind, several are unique, and have been sources for extensive and renowned publications.