The Great 78 Project – 63.000 digitized classic records for free

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The Great 78 Project is a community project for the preservation, research and discovery

of 78rpm records. From about 1898 to the 1950s, an estimated 3 million

sides (~3 minute recordings) have been made on 78rpm discs. While the

commercially viable recordings will have been restored or remastered

onto LP’s or CD, there is still research value in the artifacts and

usage evidence in the often rare 78rpm discs and recordings. Already,

over 20 collections have been selected by the Internet Archive for physical and digital preservation and access. Started by many volunteer collectors, these new collections have been selected, digitized and preserved by the Internet Archive, George Blood LP, and the Archive of Contemporary Music.

We aim to bring to light the decisions by music collectors over the

decades and a digital reference collection of underrepresented artists

and genres. The digitization will make this less commonly available

music accessible to researchers in a format where it can be manipulated

and studied without harming the physical artifacts. We have preserved

the often very prominent surface noise and imperfections and included

files generated by different sizes and shapes of stylus to facilitate

different kinds of analysis.

78s were mostly made from shellac, i.e., beetle resin, and were the

brittle predecessors to the LP (microgroove) era. The format is

obsolete, and just picking them up can cause them to break apart in your

hands. There’s no way to predict if the digital versions of these 78s

will outlast the physical items, so we are preserving both to ensure the

survival of these cultural materials for future generations to study

and enjoy.

Please join this project to:

Share knowledge. Help improve the metadata, curate the collection, contact collectors, do research on the corpus, etc.
Include your digitized collection. If you have already digitized 78s or related books or media, we’d like to include your work in the collection.
Digitize your collection. We’ve worked hard to make digitization safe, fast and affordable, so if you’d like to digitize your collection we can help.
Donate 78s. We have 200,000 78s, but we are always

looking for more. We will digitize your collection and preserve the

physical discs for the long term.