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The Belfer Audio Archive has an online searchable collection in Summon of 100,000 10- and 12-inch 78 rpm recordings, 11,000 cylinders, and 600 specialized discographies, books, and periodicals.

The archive also has a collection of 200,000 items that are not online but can be searched upon request. This part of the archive holds 10,000 cylinders, 20,000 discs, 40,000 45 rpms, numerous digital audio tapes, wires, and 20,000 tape reels and cassettes.

The focus of the archive has been popular vocal and instrumental music on cylinders and in 78 rpm formats. The content of the recordings spans a range of musical genres as well as non-musical events. Music represented includes classical, jazz, popular, marches and patriotic, novelty, folk, country, rock, ethnic and experimental genres. Some of the famous voices on the non-musical recordings are searchable in the SCRC finding aids. Examples include Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Margaret Bourke-White, Norman Corwin, Long John Nebel, Richard Neutra, Miklós Rósza, Albert Schweitzer, Benjamin Spock, Mike Wallace, and Franz Waxman.

How to Search

Here are some tips on searching for recordings in the Belfer Audio Archive.

  • NAME of performer, performance group, composer, lyricist, narrator
  • TITLE of song or larger composition (only in Classic Catalog)
  • SUBJECT *Note that while a part of the collection including Decca and Coral 78 rpm recordings and a part of the cylinder collection have subject headings, the majority of recordings in Belfer are not now searchable by subject.

If you know the exact title of a song, march, etc., and want to find any recording of it in the Libraries system, the best way to search is to use the Classic Catalog title search. As an example, you will find the specific title "Blue Moon" (rather than a number of other songs that have "blue moon" as part of the title) using this type of search. You will find all the Libraries' recordings of this song (from cylinders at Belfer to compact discs at Bird) this way.

Using Summon is a good idea if you do not have exact information and want to use keywords to do a broad search. Using the links off to the side to refine your search by location and/or topic, you will get an idea of what kinds of resources are available to you. As Summon searches all the information by keyword, when you have words you want to stay together, as, for example, "country music" it is a good idea to use quotation marks. This will pull these key words together. Remember that subject headings exist for all Bird recordings but not for the majority of the Belfer recordings collection.

If you have not found what you are looking for after searching Summon, you may want to ask for help from a librarian. You can receive specialized reference help by contacting us.


Belfer Audio Archive

Special Collections
6th floor Bird Library
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse NY 13244-2010




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