Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recordings of Christmas Past

The Library of Congress Jukebox is a collection of historical recordings, mostly from record labels now owned by Sony music who granted permission for the LOC to stream them to the public free of charge. Over 10,000 recordings made between 1910 and 1925 can be found here. They were recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company, which used large horns to gather the sound and etch it onto wax discs. Find out more about the project here and more about the process of recording here.

Victor Talking Machine Company
Photo Source

All of this brings me to a current use for the Jukebox, Christmas recordings. If you do a search on the Jukebox for Christmas, you get quite a few results. These range from spoken recordings of the Night Before Christmas to The Newsboys Christmas to bible readings and carols. It is a neat way to bring the past into the classroom in a quick way. They even sound like ghosts of Christmas past with the recording scratches and static in the background.

Singing school conducted at Jacksonville as part of six-day Extension school in August, 1915. ...
Photo Source

This is also a good way to talk about technology advances, changes in how we communicate, and ways things have stayed the same as well. Showing students a picture of how recordings were made and discussing the process is sure to surprise them. I have no doubt they will be able to tell you several different and easier ways to record in our current day.

Don't wait for your perfect Christmas unit to utilize the jukebox though, you can browse by artists, genres, or playlists plus there are search and advanced search options. Find something for your students today, have them close their eyes, listen, and be transported to the past. Don't forget to also search for an image of the artist to show students who they are listening to.

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