Historic Ethnographic Recordings (1898 – 1951) at the British Library

Documentary heritage submitted by United Kingdom and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2011.

© The British Library
Historic ethnographic field recordings on wax cylinders from 1898-1915 at The British Library. More on wax cylinders: http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Ethnographic-wax-cylinders

The Historic Ethnographic Recordings collection contains field recordings of orally transmitted cultures made throughout the world by linguists and musicologists. Some of these recordings represent the earliest extant sources for research into those cultures, and have captured in the most vivid format available at the time, unmediated by foreign textual interpretation, a linguistic and cultural diversity in a precious moment on the cusp of today’s ‘global village’. Not only were these recordings among the first of such to be made but also they may be the last: many of the languages and musical practices that feature in this collection are endangered or no longer exist.

Back to top