901 sound recordings released to Searchworks by the Archive of Recorded Sound

Photo of Gerhard Samuel collection digital object.

At the Archive of Recorded Sound we have all been adapting to working in a variety of situations ranging from wearing masks all day to child care while nursery schools are closed. With the shift to working from home the Archive of Recorded Sound staff transitioned from processing physical collections and helping researchers in person to virtual office hours and the digital collection description backlog.

For years we have been systematically preserving recordings in response to project needs and researcher requests, but at various times did not have time for creating adequate descriptive metadata (information about the recordings) for release to Searchworks (the Stanford Library catalog). Creating the thorough description of digital objects is quite time consuming and it’s easy for digital objects in need of description to accumulate over time. During this tragic moment when we can’t carry out business as usual there has been a silver lining. We have taken this time to describe and enable discovery of remotely accessible archival sound recordings, an especially important service when the majority of us are computer bound.

At the time of publishing we have been able to describe approximately 901 new archival sound recordings (approximate because we continue to work on this and are still actively releasing new content). Some of the recordings we have released to Searchworks include 233 recordings from the Gerhard Samuel collection which include many live performances by the Oakland Symphony from the 1960s and recordings from the earliest Cabrillo music festivals. Through the work of Clare Spitzer we have released 151 live recordings of contemporary chamber and experimental music from the Meridian Gallery collection. Through the work of Chris Walker we have been able to add 43 recordings featuring Clancy Hayes to the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation collection, 5 recordings from the Stanford Speech collection covering the 1970 student strike, A Meyer Library Lecture collection recording featuring Sonia Sanchez, and 15 tapes from the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade capturing conservative Cold War anxiety. Last but not least, Benjamin Bates has been actively working on digitized commercial 78 rpm recordings releasing 468 additional recordings to searchworks.

Chafe Meridian Gallery CD V3

Now, as we have begun to work on physical collections again albeit in a limited capacity, the rate of description of digital recordings is slowing but we are continuing to work on description, so stay tuned, more recordings featuring interviews with Jazz Luminaries from the 1960’s and homemade recordings by Jascha Heifetz are on the way.