News and Updates

April 12, 2024: Revised editions of two important books documenting Edison cylinder recordings have been published by UCSB’s American Discography Project.

April 7, 2022 The UCSB Library launches the Early Recordings Initiative (ERI) aimed at preserving our earliest recorded heritage.

January 1, 2022 Thousands of cylinder recordings made before January 1, 1923 enter the public domain. UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive transfers now open to free open use for any purpose.

November 12, 2020 Earliest commercial recordings made in Los Angeles featured in series of LA Times articles: LA Cylinders. UCSB's "Temple of Sound." Guardians.

November 18, 2019: Reverb Effect Podcast "Archive Magic: Uncovering Voices of the Past" features UCSB cylinders online.

November 4, 2019: Spokenweb Podcast: "Sound Recordings are Weird" interviews Project Director online.

October 24, 2017: Cylinder Audio Archive moves to new back-end database.

April 20, 2017: Arreola Family Collection of Mexican and Cuban Cylinders in the Lynn Andersen Collection now online.

June 12, 2016: Newly digitized cylinders will be posted on Facebook daily beginning Monday June 13.

May 23, 2016: Debus family donates collection of rare recordings.

November 25, 2015: New playlist of Mexican cylinders now online.

November 15, 2015: Help our preservation efforts! Select from over 2,000 cylinders available for adoption

November 12, 2015: Listen to the complete recordings featured on BBC Newsday.

November 9, 2015: 150 U.S. Everlasting cylinders digitized and online

October 13, 2015: Website relaunched as UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive

March 15, 2015: Vernacular wax cylinder collection added to National Recording Registry

August 12, 2014: Bastide collection of French brown wax cylinders acquired

April 2013: Collection of US Everlasting cylinders acquired

August 2012: Collection of Lioret cylinders added to the archive

August 2011: Collection of rare Columbia Italian operatic cylinders acquired

March 2011: New thematic playlist "Squeezebox Cylinder Recordings" online now in Podcast form

December 2010: New thematic playlist "Recorded Incunabula, Part II" online

September 2010: GRAMMY Foundation funds digitization of 1,000 Cylinders

September 2010: New thematic playlist "Operatic Cylinders from the Getty Collection" online

March 2010: Library acquires Edouard Pecourt collection of French cylinders

August 2009: "Adopt a Cylinder" program preserves our recorded heritage

April 2009: CPDP awarded a $20,000 GRAMMY® Foundation grant to catalog, conserve, and digitize 500 cylinders

January 2009: New thematic playlist "Recorded Incunabula 1891-1898" online

September 2008: Major donation will allow for acquisition of rare cylinders

June 2008: 350 new cylinders added

June 2008: CPDP named one of the 50 best websites of 2008 by TIME Magazine

April 2007: New thematic playlist Popular Songs of World War I—90th Anniversary Special

March 2007: 100 new cylinders added

March 2007: Library's oldest (1894) cylinder now online

March 2007: New thematic playlist: Advance List for December 1908

September 2006: CPDP selected as September Internet Scout Report Selection

March 2006: New section on the history of the cylinder now online

January 2006: New thematic playlist Cakewalks and Rags now online

December 2005: New thematic playlist Deutsche komische Zylinder (German Comic Cylinders) now online

November 2005: New thematic playlist Early Black Artists and Composers now online

Press Mentions

January 26, 2020. Dusting off the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archives (The Bottom Line)

June 22, 2018. This mysterious recording was the missing musical link to an era when racism was the tune (Washington Post)

May 5, 2018. Download Free Stuff From Reddit's Favorite Websites (Lifehacker)

May 16, 2017. Is this Tiny Tim's final album? New Burger Records cassette orchestrates Tiny's home tape (KPCC)

Novemeber 25, 2015. Lyssna på 100 år gamla inspelningar (NyTeknik)

November 22, 2015. Universidade da Califórnia oferece-nos a música e o quotidiano de há um século (Pulblico)

November 21, 2015. Kostenloskultur: Hundert Jahre alter Jazz: Das Wachszylinder-Archiv (Spiegel Online)

November 20, 2015. This Project Is Digitizing Wax Cylinders So You Can Listen Like It's 1880 (VICE Motherboard)

November 13, 2015. 4 Weird and Wonderful Old Recordings From Wax Cylinders (Historybuff)

November 12, 2015. Thousands of 100-year-old wax cylinder recordings now available to download (BBC Newsday)

November 12, 2015. Voci e suoni di 120 anni fa, registrati in cilindri di cera (Linkiesta)

November 12, 2015. Viaja en el tiempo con el archivo digital de grabaciones de cilindro fonográfico de la UCSB Library (Hispasonic)

November 11, 2015. From wax cylinders to 'the cloud': How to preserve data for the long term (Christian Science Monitor)

November 10, 2015. 10,000 historic phonograph cylinder audio recordings hit the web for free (

November 10, 2015. Coś niesamowitego. Posłuchaj, jak brzmi muzyka z 10 tysięcy woskowych cylindrów (Spidersweb)

November 9, 2015. Now Available: The Ultimate Old-Timey Playlist (

November 9, 2015. A university is digitizing thousands of wax cylinder records (Engadget)

November 9, 2015. Download 10,000 of the First Recordings of Music Ever Made, Courtesy of the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive (Openculture)

November 9, 2015. Stream 10,000 Rad Vintage Wax Cylinder Recordings from the UCSB Library (Inverse)

November 9, 2015. Thousands of 100-year-old wax cylinder recordings available to stream (C|NET)

November 8, 2015. 10,000 wax cylinders digitized and free to download (boingboing)

November 4, 2015. An Archive of 10,000 Cylinder Recordings Readied for the Spotify Era (Hyperallergic)

March 30, 2015. "Rare Recordings In South Coast Collection Added To Library Of Congress Registry" (KCLU)

March 29, 2015. "History in Wax." (Santa Barbara News Press)

March 25, 2015. "Steve Martin, The Doors and Radiohead Albums Named to National Recording Registry" (Hollywood Reporter)

June 21, 2011. The sound of silence (The Economist)

September 10, 2008. "Wax in My Ears: An Online Journey" (Wall Street Journal)

November 15, 2007. 10 Crucial Music Websites (OC Weekly)

April 13, 2007. "Unlocking Nation's Musical Memories: Pre-1972 Copyright Confusion Keeps Archives Out of Reach." (Los Angeles Daily Journal)

July 18, 2006. "Vintage music available for download" (Wall Street Journal also [Columbia, SC] The State)

June 2006. "Party Like It's 1899!" (The Word)

May 22, 2006. "History of recording waxes lyrical on-line" (Daily Telegraph/

May 16, 2006. "Front Row" (BBC Radio 4)

May 13, 2006. "Online treasures for early music fans" (Toronto Star)

April 13, 2006. "Historians strive to save old sounds" (Christian Science Monitor)

April 4, 2006. "Cooking the clocks" (Columbia Spectator)

April 2, 2006. "The Sunday Edition" (CBC Radio One)

April 1, 2006. "Sidetrack: April 2006" (WILL, Champaign-Urbana, IL)

March 22, 2006. "Web search: It's all in the archive" (Minneapolis StarTribune)

March 20, 2006. "Archaic sounds caress modern ears" (Wired News)

March 19, 2006. "How pop sounded before it popped" (New York Times)

March 17, 2006. "Listeners rediscover Tin Pan Alley pop" (International Herald Tribune)

March 16, 2006. America's forgotten pop legacy, Soundcheck, WNYC (New York). Interview with Jody Rosen, Music Critic,

February 21, 2006. Morning News program (KCLU)

February 14, 2006. "Cylinder recordings from Edison's era find new life in podcasts" (Columbia News Service)

February 13, 2006. "Brief news items from around California" (San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Monterey County Herald)

February 13, 2006. "Rare recordings available online" (Contra Costa Times)

February 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."

February 12, 2006. "UCSB puts historic recordings on Web" (Santa Barbara News Press)

February 2, 2006. "Preserving fragile cylinder recordings" (American Public Media's Future Tense)

January 20, 2006. "Library offers early recordings online" (UCSB Daily Nexus)

January 6, 2006. "Party Like it's 1899" (Associated Press ASAP feature, also at Austin American-Statesman (,, Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg Times, Waco Tribune-Herald, Houston Chronicle, Longview (TX) News-Journal, Greenville (NC) Daily Reflector, Grand Junction Daily Sentinal, Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram, Lufkin (TX) Daily News, Elizabeth City (NC) Daily Advance, Marshall (TX) News Messenger, Atlanta Journal-Constitution et. al)

January 5, 2006. "The Year in Culture: Judd Apatow, Noah Baumbach, Curtis Sittenfeld, and others on 2005's most notable cultural happenings" (Slate Magazine)

January/February 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)

December 23, 2005. "Edison Amberol" (Sycamore Review)

December 21, 2005. "Home Listening for the Holidays" (Seattle Weekly)

December 14, 2005. "Whistle a happy tune" (USA Today's Tech_Space blog)

December 7, 2005. Genealogy Today: Podcasts bring genealogy to your home computer or iPod (Clark County, Washington, Columbian)

November 23, 2005. "What Did Our Ancestors Listen To?" (Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter)

November 18, 2005. "5000 Cylinder Recordings Placed Online" (Slashdot discussion)

November 18, 2005. "University of California, Santa Barbara Digitizes Over 5,000 Cylinders" (Center for the Internet and Society Levine Blog)

November 17, 2005. "Wax Cylinder Collection" (CBC's "As It Happens")

November 17, 2005. "5000 music cylinders digitized and posted" (

November 17, 2005. "Digital Archive of Cylinder Recordings" (Ukulelia weblog)

November 16, 2005. "Old cylinder recordings (1890-1920) archive now online..." (Discussion on I Love Music)

November 16, 2005. "Treasure Trove" (The Anachronist blog)

"The UCSB site is astonishing: an expertly designed, easily searchable trove of beautiful, weird, wonderful records, many of them extremely rare...I can't help but suspect that we're watching a turning of the scholarly tide; I think we'll see a lot more work on The Other Roots Music in the coming years."