The Internet Archive is now home to the world’s largest collection of digitized vinyl recordings, with the Great 78 Project working tirelessly to preserve, research and discover 78rpm records.
The project researchers say there were approximately 3 three million “sides” made on 78rpm discs from about 1898 to the 1950s. The ones that were a “hit” – they made it to LP or CD as well. This project aims to bring the lesser-known recordings to the modern era, in a format that allows researchers to manipulate and study the recordings without causing any damage to the originals.
You see, most 78s weren’t “vinyl” at all – but made from shellac (a type of beetle resin) and are incredibly brittle – even picking them up can make them break apart in your hands, the recordings lost forever.
This project doesn’t want to “improve” on the recordings with remastering, but preserve them exactly as they sound.
With the Great 78 Project’s collaboration, the Internet Archive now has over 200,000 donated physical recordings. You can browse the collection by year, creator, genre and language.