Friday, July 16, 2010

Exploring turn-of-the-century social history via wax cylinders

I have been having a fun afternoon plowing through the vast Cylinder Digitization and Preservation Project site at UC Santa Barbara. The site is "a digital collection of over 8,000 cylinder recordings held by the Department of Special Collections" all of them available to download or to play online. They also have a handy series of streaming radio programs featuring collections such as World War One songs or famous historic speeches.(See also this older post about another wax cylinder collection.)

What I have been doing today is looking for songs that illustrate common themes in my history courses. I try to bring some web resources into every lesson and I think my students would enjoy hearing the crackly old songs. And what a gold mine of stuff! Some examples:
There is also some starkly racist material here concerning Indians and blacks (do your own searches) that depending on the level of your students might be valuable as well. Check out the browsing page for other categories of collections.


TeacherThink said...

I love adding songs to my lessons too! I particularly enjoy Depression Era songs and, of course, Vietnam protest songs tend to grab my students' attention.

Thanks for the great resource!


Anonymous said...

This is fantastic--thanks for posting!


Niftyniall said...

Must not forget the Internet Archive has numerous cylinder recordings.
Amongst their extensive collections.

Larry Cebula said...

Good tip NiftyNaill, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Larry, thanks for bringing this fantastic resource to our attention. You are right, you can spend the afternoon or longer with some musical time travel. I have been reading a lot on the period of the 1890s lately and had just been wondering what kind of music they listened to -- now I know!