The Center holds approximately 249,000 commercial sound recordings, in formats from early cylinders to compact discs and MP3 files, as well as about 450 hours of archival recordings. The commercial collection of 78s, 45s, vinyl LPs, cassette tapes, compact discs, and digital files has been assembled to represent the full breadth of America's popular music recording history. In house, the collection is generally organized by label and release number. Due to the sheer number of items, many of our sound recordings do not have catalog records that are searchable online. However, many of our CDs and LPs can be searched using the James E. Walker Library's online catalog. If an item is missing from the catalog it may still be in our collection. When in doubt, please contact the reference desk for assistance. The cataloging process is ongoing, and we hope to make more collections searchable soon. Please contact the Curator of Recorded Media Collections for details on access and availability.
Archival recordings available to researchers include a variety of historically significant materials, including early recordings of arranger Ferde Grofé, John W. Work, III of Fisk University, and fiddler Tommy Magness, among others.
The Center also holds approximately 4,500 oral history recordings, primarily from the Charles K. Wolfe Audio Collection, which features interviews with Southern country and folk artists. Additionally, researchers at the Center have access to the Cusic Collection of interviews with southern gospel composers, publishers, and singers, and the Gayle Dean Wardlow Collection of interviews with Mississippi Delta African American musicians.
270 hours of taped lectures, performances and interviews, including lectures by music industry executives to students of the MTSU recording industry program, 21 hours of Alabama African American religious singing, and 136 hours of tapes from Center programs, lectures, concerts, and field work.