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What the Critics Are Saying

  • Jan/Feb 2006 "Family Historians are accustomed to silent searching through history, but wouldn't it be nice if history actually said something to us?" (Ancestry Magazine)
  • 2/13/2006 "Changing History" (Wall Street Journal)

    Historical material heading onto the Web isn't all documents and images, either. Last November, 5,000 digitized wax-cylinder recordings dating back to 1895 were posted online by the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Among the recordings: Tin Pan Alley music, vaudeville performances and advertisements from that time.

    Seldom Heard

    Rick Altman, a professor of cinema and comparative literature at the University of Iowa, says that the digitized cylinders have been a blessing for his research work. He recently downloaded routines by Russell Hunting, a comedian around the turn of the 20th century whose recordings, until now, were nearly inaccessible. Mr. Altman has written extensively about silent-movie-era performers who specialized in making sounds to match the action on the screen -- from chirping birds to foreign accents -- and says that many of these performers modeled their styles after Mr. Hunting's.

    "I had to write about this without ever having heard him," Mr. Altman says. "Now I'll have a better sense of what people were looking for."

  • 2/13/2006 "Rare recordings available online" (Contra Costa Times)
  • 2/21/2006 Morning News program (KCLU, Thousand Oaks, CA)
  • June 2006 "Party Like It's 1899!" (The Word)
  • April 13, 2007. "Unlocking Nation's Musical Memories: Pre-1972 Copyright Confusion Keeps Archives Out of Reach." (Los Angeles Daily Journal)

For media inquiries, a press release is available online or contact David Seubert at 805-893-5444 for further information.


An initiative of the UC Santa Barbara Library • (805) 893-5444 • Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010. [Envelope] Direct questions or comments about the project or this page to the project staff or visit the help pages.

Featured Cylinder

I sent my wife to the Thousand Isles - Billy Murray. (Edison Blue Amberol: 2999), Edison Record: 4895), [1916].


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Did You Know?
Cylinders are acoustic recordings--performers sang or played into a recording horn, not a microphone. Microphones were not in widespread use until 1924 with the advent of electrical recording.

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