National Recording Registry

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

In 2002, the Library of Congress took its first step to preserve American sound recordings and selected the first 50 recordings to start a national registry.

(Listed in chronological order.)

  1. Edison Exhibition Recordings (Group of three cylinders): “Around the World on the Phonograph;” “The Pattison Waltz;” “Fifth Regiment March.” (1888–1889).
  2. The Jesse Walter Fewkes field recordings of the Passamaquoddy Indians. (1890)
  3. “Stars and Stripes Forever” Military Band. Berliner Gramophone disc recording. (1897)
  4. Lionel Mapleson cylinder recordings of the Metropolitan Opera. (1900–1903)
  5. Scott Joplin ragtime compositions on piano rolls. Scott Joplin, piano. (1900s)
  6. Booker T. Washington's 1895 Atlanta Exposition Speech. (1906 recreation)
  7. “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci. Enrico Caruso. (1907)
  8. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Fisk Jubilee Singers. (1909)
  9. Lovey's Trinidad String Band recordings for Columbia Records. (1912)
  10. “Casey at the Bat.” DeWolf Hopper, reciting. (1915)
  11. “Tiger Rag.” Original Dixieland Jazz Band. (1918)
  12. “Arkansas Traveler” and “Sallie Gooden.” Eck Robertson, fiddle. (1922)
  13. “Down-Hearted Blues.” Bessie Smith. (1923)
  14. “Rhapsody in Blue.” George Gershwin, piano; Paul Whiteman Orchestra. (1924)
  15. Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. (1925–1928)
  16. Victor Talking Machine Company sessions in Bristol, Tennessee. Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Stoneman, and others. (1927)
  17. Harvard Vocarium record series. T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, others, reciting. (1930–1940s)
  18. Highlander Center Field Recording Collection. Rosa Parks, Esau Jenkins, others. (1930s–1980s)
  19. Bell Laboratories experimental stereo recordings. Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, conductor. (1931-1932)
  20. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's radio “Fireside Chats.” (1933–1944)
  21. New Music Recordings series. Henry Cowell, producer. (1934–1949)
  22. Description of the crash of the Hindenburg. Herbert Morrison, reporting. (1937)
  23. “Who's on First.” Abbott and Costello's first radio broadcast version. (1938)
  24. “War of the Worlds.” Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater. (1938)
  25. “God Bless America.” Kate Smith. Radio broadcast premiere. (1938)
  26. The Cradle Will Rock. Marc Blitzstein and the original Broadway cast. (1938)
  27. The John and Ruby Lomax Southern States Recording Trip. (1939)
  28. Grand Ole Opry. First network radio broadcast. Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff, and others. (1939)
  29. “Strange Fruit.” Billie Holiday. (1939)
  30. Duke Ellington Orchestra “Blanton-Webster Era” recordings. (1940–1942)
  31. Bela Bartok, piano, and Joseph Szigeti, violin, in concert at the Library of Congress. (1940)
  32. “Rite of Spring.” Igor Stravinsky conducting the New York Philharmonic. (1940)
  33. “White Christmas.” Bing Crosby. (1942)
  34. “This Land is Your Land.” Woody Guthrie. (1944)
  35. General Dwight D. Eisenhower's D-Day radio address to the Allied Nations. (1944)
  36. “Koko.” Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. (1945)
  37. “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. (1947)
  38. “How High the Moon.” Les Paul and Mary Ford. (1951)
  39. Elvis Presley's Sun Records sessions. (1954–1955)
  40. Songs for Young Lovers. Frank Sinatra. (1955)
  41. Dance Mania. Tito Puente. (1958)
  42. Kind of Blue. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, and others. (1959)
  43. “What'd I Say,” parts 1 and 2. Ray Charles. (1959)
  44. “I Have a Dream.” Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
  45. Freewheelin'. Bob Dylan. (1963)
  46. “Respect!” Aretha Franklin. (1967)
  47. Philomel: for soprano, recorded soprano, and synthesized sound. Bethany Beardslee, soprano. (1971)
  48. Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Gospel Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey. Thomas Dorsey, Marion Williams, and others. (1973)
  49. Crescent City Living Legends Collection (New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Archive/WWOZ New Orleans). (1973–1990)
  50. “The Message.” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. (1982)

Sources +