January 21, 2022

Digitization Projects: Indiana University Libraries to Present China’s Earliest Known Sound Recordings in Bilingual Web Project

From Indiana University Libraries:

The First Recordings from China Project, now underway thanks to $90,000 in funding from The Tang Research Foundation (TRF), is centered on 400 phonograph cylinders held by Indiana University Libraries’ Archives of Traditional Music.

Recorded by Berthold Laufer in 1901 and 1902, modern scholars assert these are not only the earliest recordings made in China, but also contain uniquely valuable documentation of Chinese folk and theatre music from the early 20th century. First Recordings is a collaborative effort between Chinese and American scholars from the fields of ethnomusicology, history, folklore, and linguistics exposing the recently digitized recordings to international audiences for the first time.


Recently, IU digitally preserved the 400 recordings with help from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant through its Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative.  Now, these raw materials will be used in a global presentation, expected fall 2020, including an overview of the collection, its various components, and a biography of Laufer. Additionally, a bilingual print publication with accompanying CDs will offer an additional format to increase scholarly engagement.

Learn More About the Digitization Project (approx. 900 words)
Includes images and audio.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.