The Preservation Act of 2000 requires the Librarian of Congress to select 25 recordings annually that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. The selections for the 2013 National Recording Registry brings the total number of recordings on the registry to 400, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded sound collection of more than 3.5 million items.
Nominations are gathered through online submissions from the public and from the National Recording Preservation Board, which is comprised of leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation.
You, too, can nominate up to 50 recordings annually. Here’s how:
- Include as much information as possible about the nominated recording(s). All nominations should include the recording artist(s), title, and record label name/number for published recordings or a brief but specific description for unpublished and broadcast recordings.
- Include a brief justification for each nomination.
- Submit your nomination by mail, fax, or email (see below).
Nominations are accepted continuously as the deadline varies each year. Those received too late for the current year’s registry will be rolled over to the next year. Due to the large number of submissions, nominations will not be acknowledged.
For more information:
National Recording Preservation Board
c/o Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20540-4698
Fax: (202) 707-8464
Recordings selected so far by the Librarian of Congress for the Registry run the gamut and include:
Tiger Rag – Original Dixieland Jazz Band. (1918) The Original Dixieland Jazz Band was the first jazz band to make a commercial recording. This all-white New Orleans-style group from Chicago featured cornetist Nick LaRocca. While not the best ensemble of its day, the first recordings of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band initiated a craze for a new art form–jazz. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – Fisk University Jubilee Quartet. (1909) The Fisk Jubilee Singers helped establish the black spiritual in the history of American music. They were also the first to introduce these songs to white audiences through concert tours and recordings. “Swing Low” is their first commercial recording. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Sounds of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. (1935) In 1935, on their expedition to document rare North American birds, Arthur Allen and Peter Paul Kellogg of Cornell University recorded a pair of ivory-billed woodpeckers in an old-growth Louisiana swamp forest known as the Singer Tract. These recordings of the birds’ calls and foraging taps are presently the last confirmed aural evidence of what was once the largest woodpecker species in the United States. The last universally accepted sighting of an ivory-bill occurred in 1944. However, since that time, many scientists believe there have been credible sightings of the species, suggesting the bird might not be extinct. These 1935 recordings have been vital to recent searches and have been used to train searchers on what to listen for. They have also been used to develop pattern-recognition software, enlisting computers to analyze new field recordings identifying similar sounds. Selected for the 2008 registry.
Ronald Reagan Radio Broadcasts. (1976-1979) This collection of over 1,000 radio broadcast recordings, the majority penned by Ronald Reagan himself, documents the development of his political vision in the years immediately preceding his election to the White House. In the broadcasts, Reagan sounded what would become the familiar themes of his presidency: reduction of government spending, tax cuts, supply-side economics and anti-communism. These radio “chats” did not focus on specific policy prescriptions as much as they outlined a conservative governing philosophy. Also showcased is Reagan’s conversational, folksy rhetorical style, which adds immeasurably to his public appeal. Selected for the 2007 registry.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (album). Vince Guaraldi Trio. (1965) “A Charlie Brown Christmas” introduced jazz to millions of listeners. The television soundtrack album includes expanded themes from the animated “Peanuts” special of the same name as well as jazz versions of both traditional and popular Christmas music, performed primarily by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The original music is credited to pianist Guaraldi and television producer Lee Mendelson. Best remembered is the “Linus and Lucy” theme, originally composed by Guaraldi for an earlier “Peanuts” project, which remains beloved by fans of the popular television specials, those devoted to the daily newspaper comic strip, and music lovers alike. Selected for the 2011 registry.
“Dear Mama.” Tupac Shakur. (1995) In this moving and eloquent homage to both his own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty, and societal indifference, Tupac Shakur unflinchingly forgives his mother who, despite a cocaine habit, “never kept a secret, always stayed real.” The song displays further evidence of hip hop as a musically sophisticated and varied genre which can artfully encompass a wide variety of themes and musical influences. Selected for the 2009 registry.
“Coat of Many Colors.” Dolly Parton. (1971) Dolly Parton’s autobiographical song, “Coat of Many Colors,” affectionately recounts an impoverished childhood in the hills of Tennessee that was made rich by the love of her family. The song was instrumental in establishing Parton’s credibility as a songwriter. Her voice uplifts the song with emotion and tender remembrances of her close-knit musical family. Parton has called “Coat of Many Colors” the favorite of her compositions because of the attitude and philosophy it reflects. Parton’s prolific songwriting career has embraced many different musical styles, including pop, jazz, and bluegrass, as well as country. Dolly Parton was voted the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the year for 1975 and 1976 and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Selected for the 2011 registry.
“Theme from ‘Shaft’” (album). Isaac Hayes. (1971) After several years behind the scenes as a writer and producer at Stax Records in Memphis, Isaac Hayes broke through as a solo artist with a series of albums that featured his lengthy, multi-layered compositions and distinctive speaking and singing styles. In 1971, after the Hollywood recording sessions for his soundtrack to “Shaft,” a groundbreaking film about an African-American private detective caught between the mob and the police, Hayes returned to Memphis and created this double album. Hayes enhanced and expanded his earlier work as he saw fit, and created a listening experience as innovative and exciting as the film itself, leading off with an unforgettable opening theme highlighted by Charles Pitts’s wah-wah guitar and Hayes’s sexy banter with a female chorus. Selected for the 2013 registry.
View the full Registry.
Note: The Full National Recording Registry is a national list and many of the items listed are housed in collections across the country. The Library of Congress does not currently hold copies of all the recordings listed.