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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Sounds of Family History - Cylinder Recordings



After finding a great website today - Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project - run by the University of California, Santa Barbara, I had to create a new bookmark folder under my Research folder entitled Music and Sounds.

When documenting your family history, especially if preparing multi-media presentations such as videos, slides shows, etc., you might consider looking into music which was recorded on to cylinders from the turn of the century until the late 1920s. This would be the music from my great-grandparent's time period and I know the collection on this website is not only fantastic but can also be utilized under a modified copyright using a Creative Commons license.

I've never seen a cylinder - the early tin-foil versions, the more common wax or the celluloid version - up close and in person but I've heard family members talk about them. To be honest, they weren't very popular compared to records - let's just say that the wax cylinder of the early 1900s might be like the old reel-to-reel tapes some people had in the 1960s: great for audiophiles but not for com=nsumption by the general public.

But with the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, you have access to hundreds of cylinders that can be used as background music or soundtracks when putting together family history presentations. Take a look around and see what kind of music your ancestors used to listen to!

Photo: Columbia Phonograph Co. Cylinder. Digital image. University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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