It’s the history and culture of the state of Mississippi and the surrounding states. We save history before it is lost. We preserve it and make it available,” said Jennifer Ford, head of Ole Miss’ Department of Archives and Special Collections. “Most important is to make it accessible, to make it available to our patrons.”
Original Robert Johnson 78 rpm recordings, including “Cross Road Blues” and “Last Fair Deal Gone Down,” are part of the archive. They’re treasured items, but they’re certainly not alone.
“It’s about 70,000 sound recordings, over 20,000 photographs,” Johnson said. “We have over 2,000 posters and over 5,000 books and periodicals. We have blues clothing, T-shirts and hats from festivals.”
The archive includes recordings on vinyl and CD, as well as cassette, 8-track and reel-to-reel tapes. There are devices that play music in all those formats, but it wouldn’t be wise to make them all available. Vinyl can be scratched; tapes can oxidize and degrade over time.
“It’s not everything, but we have a lot of these digitized,” [Greg] Johnson, [curator of the Blues Archive] said.
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Direct to U. of Mississippi Digital Collections
Several Blues-Related Collections Available Online