Preservation and Access: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Period of Performance

9/1/2015 - 7/31/2019

Funding Totals

$275,000.00 (approved)
$274,585.25 (awarded)

Wax Cylinder Preservation and Access Project

FAIN: PW-228262-15

Trustees of Indiana University (Bloomington, IN 47405-7000)
Alan Burdette (Project Director: July 2014 to March 2021)

Digital reformatting and preservation of nearly 7,000 sound recordings on wax cylinders made between 1893 and 1938. These field recordings, housed at the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University, document early years of American anthropology and represent cultural heritage materials collected from Native Americans and indigenous groups across the globe.

This project will transfer and digitally preserve 6,957 wax cylinder recordings held by the Archives of Traditional Music (ATM) at Indiana University. The project will also improve access to the recordings by way of electronic indexing, online streaming, and an effort to develop updated and more granular protocols for use of the recordings. These cylinders comprise 160 ethnographic collections from all over the world and made between 1893 and 1938, containing primarily unique, irreplaceable recordings. Many of these recordings were made during a seminal period of American anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, and linguistics, by prominent scholars such as Franz Boaz, Elsie Clews Parsons, George Herzog, and Edward Sapir. A joint effort of Indiana University's Archives of Traditional Music and the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, this project comes at a critical time and an opportune moment in the history of these sound artifacts.

Associated Products

Using the Endpoint Audio Labs Cylinder Playback Machine (Blog Post)
Title: Using the Endpoint Audio Labs Cylinder Playback Machine
Author: Adam Nickel
Abstract: The blog post discusses the installation of the Endpoint Audio cylinder playback machine and the special capabilities it has for transferring cylinders.
Date: 9/6/2017
Primary URL:
Website: Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative Blog