The Library of Congress Recorded Sound Collection contains some 2.5 million audio recordings including multiple copies. Published and unpublished recordings, contained on a variety of physical formats representing the history of sound recording from late nineteenth century cylinders and discs to the latest digital files, include radio broadcasts and spoken word, as well as vocal and instrumental music.
Radio broadcast transcriptions, making up approximately 30% of the collection, reflect the pioneering efforts of the early networks and preserve for posterity the reporting of such historic events as World War II and the space race, as well as news, talk, variety, and comedy shows. The scope of music exemplified by the collection is vast in depth and breadth. The unique 1898 recordings of whistler Milton Clark by disc-recording pioneer Emile Berliner, the Carter Family's 1928 hit Wildwood Flower, Bob Dylan singing Hard Rain's Gonna Fall at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival , Ellington's Take the A Train, The Beatles' Hard Day's Night, Bob Marley's Rastaman Vibration, Michael Jackson's Thriller, and Ricky Martin's number one Latin album of 1999, Vuelve, are filed alongside great moments in the history of recorded Western classical music. Spoken word recordings cover such events as famous speeches of U.S. presidents since Teddy Roosevelt and renowned poets reading from their works also comprise an important portion of the collection.
Several special projects are currently underway at the Library to increase the number of recordings represented by online cataloging and thereby create greater accessibility to the collection by the public. These projects include retrospective ILS "copy cataloging" for as-yet uncataloged LPs and CDs via OCLC, the inventorying of Armed Forces Radio broadcast transcription discs in SONIC, the original cataloging of non-Armed Forces Radio broadcast transcription discs in the ILS, and the addition of recently-received 78 rpm discs to SONIC. These projects and others like them are helping us to realize the Library's goal of making its collections as accessible as possible to the public.
- Copyright Cassettes -- approx. 46,800 records. Includes published and unpublished material. Data taken from copyright file records. [ongoing]
- Recordable Compact Discs -- approx. 3700 records. Includes unpublished material. Data taken from copyright file records. Primarily "PA" copyright deposits. [ongoing]
- 45rpm Discs -- approx. 100,400 records. Inventory of 45rpm disc collection. Some data taken from copyright file records.
- 78rpm Discs (non-Rigler-Deutsch) -- approx. 82,000 records. Collection of 78rpm discs acquired by LC since the compilation of the RDI in 1982. Primarily American jazz and popular music. [ongoing]
- NBC Radio Collection -- approx. 68,000 records. Contains all genres of NBC programs from the early 1930s through the late 1960s. [ongoing]
- Office of War Information (OWI) -- 8242 records. Contains OWI news, information, entertainment, and propaganda broadcasts from 1942 through 1945. Primarily in English.
- AFRTS Basic Musical Library, P series -- 7528 records. Popular music library discs from the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Popular music.
- AFRTS radio series -- Various AFRTS series on 16" discs. From 1942 to 1959. [to be transferred from NPR database to RS1; ongoing]
- Meet the Press Collection -- 2027 records. The radio program and audio from the television program. 1945-1984.
- Raymond Gram Swing Collection -- 1298 records. News and commentary by radio commentator Raymond Swing. 1938-1947. Some of the records have brief summaries.
- American Country Countdown -- 321 records. 1990-1996. Syndicated radio show featuring the top 40 country records in the U.S. for a given week.
- Freedom Sings -- 161 records. Radio broadcasts from 1950s-1970s featuring the U.S. Marine Band.
- UCLA Collection -- 115 records. Miscellaneous radio programs from instantaneous discs.
- U.S. Marine Band Concerts -- 54 records. Radio broadcasts featuring the U.S. Marine Band.1959-1960.
- RCA Victor Thesaurus Transcription Discs -- 54 records. Discs made for radio broadcast, includes music, auditions, other programs.
- Elvis Presley Syndicated Radio Shows -- 48 records. Contains the following four shows: Christmas with Elvis, Memories of Elvis, Elvis Birthday Tribute and The Elvis Hour. These include music by Presley and others, interviews with Presley and others, trivia and special guests.
- Larry King Show -- 21 records. A selection of King's radio talk show series from 1982 to 1985.
- Andre Kostelanetz Collection -- 1136 records. Includes records for his radio shows Chesterfield Presents and Tune-up Time. Primarily from the 1930s. ILS collection level record no.: 99-385960.
- Leonard Bernstein Audio Materials -- 632 records. Unpublished material from the Leonard Bernstein collection. Spans the 1930s to the 1990s.
- Danny Kaye/Sylvia Fine Kaye Audio Materials -- 218 records. Unpublished materials from the Kaye/Fine collection. Spans 1944 through 1964.
- Gerry Mulligan Collection -- 151 records. Unpublished recordings, includes rehearsals, jam sessions, commercial recordings, live performances. 1948-1952, 1953, 1956-1958, 1960-1979, 1981-1982, 1985. ILS collection level record no.: 98-701932
- Bob Frank Collection (Kostelanetz) -- 108 records. Frank is a relative of Andre Kostelanetz's who collected a variety of recordings connected with A.K. Includes radio programs, special programs, commercial recordings etc. ILS collection level record no.: 90-740036
- Robert Craft/Igor Stravinsky Audio Materials -- 44 records. Unpublished materials from the 1940s and 1950s featuring works composed and performed by Stravinsky, some with the New York Philharmonic.
- Klemperer (Otto) Collection -- 14 records. Unpublished material covering 1960s-1970s.
- Stephen Sondheim -- 14 records. Sondheim sings his own music. Includes songs from his musicals (including ones that were eventually cut), television and theater productions. Covers 50s-60s. Also includes sound from radio shows on Sondheim's life and work. STAR also contains about 15 records for instantaneous discs from Sondheim's music recording collection.
- Irving R. Levine Collection -- 12 records. Levine is journalist, news commentator. Includes some radio/television broadcast material. Includes undated materials and some from 1950s.
- George Gershwin -- 6 records. Rare Gershwin recordings and radio broadcasts. Lester Horton Collection -- 5 records. Primarily interviews with dancers. 1970s, 1990.
- Boris Koutzen Audio Materials -- 2 records, one for a performance of his The Fatal Oath and one for the Primrose String Quartet performing his String quartet, no. 2 on an NBC program.
- Duke Ellington test pressings from Valburn Collection -- 1 record (describes 5 test pressings). Test pressings of Duke Ellington and his orchestra from the 30s.
- National Press Club -- 1955 records. Recordings of NPC luncheon speakers series plus some other events covering 1952 to1989. Primarily name and date access. ILS collection level record no.: 93-842085
- Marine Corp Combat Recordings -- 1473 records. Field recordings made by World War II combat correspondents in the South Pacific. Includes briefings before invasions, battle sounds, and personal messages from servicemen and women to loved ones at home. [ongoing]
- U.S. House of Representatives Sessions Collection -- 1032 records. House of Rep. floor proceedings. Covers 2/1979--12/1985.
- Newport Jazz Festival -- 548 records. VOA recordings of the festival, 1955-1963, 1966-1967, 1970-1975. [ongoing]
- American Liszt Society Collection -- 194 records. Covers American Liszt Society annual festivals for 1967-1995 (bulk 1967-1979). Includes lectures and music. ILS collection level record no.: 97-704419
- Former Members of Congress -- 66 records. Interviews with former members of congress conducted 1974-1980. ILS collection level record no.: 95-770278
- Test Pressings -- approx. 870 records. Test pressings from the Moss, Carolan, Altshuler, Spottswood, Carneal and Lincoln collections. Some information taken from discographies. Primarily jazz and popular music. [ongoing]
- John Toland Collection -- 168 records. Interviews (conducted 1970-1975) with friends, relatives, and others who knew Adolf Hitler (for a biography of Hitler). ILS collection level record no.: 00-580491
- Desert Storm Cassettes -- 107 records. Copyright cassettes of songs about the Persian Gulf War.
- Lyn Smith Cuba Collection: Oral Histories of Cuban Women -- 54 records. Interviews with Cuban women from all walks of life conducted in 1988 and1990. ILS collection level record no.: 97-700587
- Vivian Perlis Collection -- 40 records. Contains interviews, musical performances and other material used for television documentaries on John Cage, Aaron Copland, and Eubie Blake. ILS collection level record no.: 98-700725.
- Recorded Sound Serials -- 37 records that allow for item-level check-in [ongoing]
- William L. Ewell Collection -- 20 records. A collection of jazz music from 1960s-1970s including many live performances.
- Bootleg recordings -- 14 records. Bootleg recordings of performances by The Beatles, Blind Faith, Frank Zappa, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Yes and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
- Philip Gries, Collector's Choice Archival Television Audio, Inc. -- 10 records. Audio for various television programs from 1961 to 1963 (includes bulletin announcing JFK's assassination).
- Gordon Milne Collection -- 6 records. Jazz music.
- Timothy S. Goeglein -- 1 record. An interview with William F. Buckley Jr. conducted in 1996.