We spend hours trolling libraries and archives for new and lost interviews. We are sound archeologists, if you will, digging in forgotten corners for audio gems that we can bring back to life. We don’t discriminate though – we love archives of all kinds, whether they come from the hallowed halls of great institutions or the maybe-sorta-somewhat sketchy corners of the internet.
Here’s a list of our favorites archives of the moment:
1. The Joe Smith Collection at the Library of Congress
If you’ve watched our series, you know we love the gems from Joe’s archive. Several of our episodes use audio from the Collection including our B.B. King, Joni Mitchell, Stan Getz, Jerry Garcia, Lou Reed, Ray Charles, and David Bowie episodes. The thing is: we haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s there.
In the 1980’s, Joe Smith, a long time music executive, decided to write about the industry and preserve an oral history of rock and roll. He proceeded to interview over 200 people in the music biz for a book. The list of interviewees is a veritable who’s who of rock stars – Little Richard, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan… the list goes on and on. Luckily for for us, Smith recorded all those interviews and in 2012, he donated the unedited tapes to the Library of Congress. You can access the collection here.
2. Internet Arcade
Children of the 80’s and 90’s rejoice! The arcade games of your youth are now available online, courtesy of Internet Arcade. Sling beers in Tapper and top that patty with cheese and lettuce as a Burgertime master.
The folks behind Internet Arcade, part of the Internet Archive, figured out a way to take arcade games from the 70’s through the 90’s and make them playable on the web. They have a treasure trove of over 900 games, so chances are you’ll find your old favorite somewhere in there.
It can be a little difficult to figure out how to get started playing the games, but there’s a helpful guide here.
3. The Sketchbook Project
The Sketchbook Project is slightly different than the other archives on this list – instead of collecting and preserving things from the past, it is more like a crowd-sourced living archive. The Brooklyn-based company sells blank sketchbooks which participants then fill with whatever their heart desires, then they send the sketchbook back to The Project. The completed sketchbooks are then available for viewing and browsing at the Brooklyn Art Library. The library has collected over 30,000 books so far. You can learn more about The Sketchbook Project and view some of the digitized artist books here:
The word “wunderkammer” refers to the cabinets of curiosity sometimes kept by the wealthy during the European Renaissance. It’s also the name of the fascinating collection of medical art archived by the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library in Stockholm. You can check out some of their collection online – you can search images by “mood” – and you’ll find gems like these:
5. Alan Lomax Archive on YouTube
The musicologist/archivist/writer Alan Lomax left behind a huge collection of recordings documenting traditional music and folkways, which is now maintained by the Association for Cultural Equity. The holdings are expansive and wide-ranging, but we particularly like the Archive’s Youtube channel, which makes available videos shot throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s in the American South and Southwest, made in preparation for the PBS series, “American Patchwork.”