The Library of Congress has launched a new service that helps to bring the past to life. The service is called the national jukebox. It includes access for streaming audio to more than 10,000 historical recordings.
The recordings include music, poetry, political speeches and other types of content. Today the recordings include only those from the Victor Talking Machine Company, which is owned by Sony. In the future it may include others. The collection includes recordings made acoustically. Acoustical recordings are those made by purely mechanical means without the aid of a microphone.
The collection includes recordings from John Philip Sousa, Bert Williams, and Geraldine Farrar as well as the Victrola Book of Opera. It also has a feature to show what was recorded on any given day. You can see what was recorded at the birth of a grandparent, or the marriage of a great-grandparent.
These types of services, that the Internet has made possible, add an entire new dimension to family history. Some of the richest experiences we have in finding our ancestors are as we come to know more about them and their lives. Music has been a key part of the fabric of our culture from its beginning. Having the opportunity to hear the music at the time of our ancestor’s lives can give us a connection to them and insights into the time in which they lived.
I love music and this site is a treasure trove of the earliest music ever recorded. As I listen to some of the songs they make me think of my grandmother and time I spent in her house.
While it is unlikely that I will find any of my ancestors on this Library of Congress site, this type of experience gives me a connection to the past and helps me visualize the lives my ancestors lived and the entertainment they may have enjoyed. I look forward to the site as new content is added and I look forward to more of this type of service that connects and binds us to the lives from which we come.