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UCSB Library has been awarded a $349,993 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the American Record Corporation (ARC) Access Initiative of the American Discography Project. The NEH has now awarded six grants totaling more than $2 million in support of UCSB’s Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR), which authoritatively documents and digitizes historical sound recordings. 

The new grant award will enable the Library to add the discographic data for 12,000 recordings made by the American Record Corporation during the 1920s and 1930s to DAHR and to digitize 8,500 recordings by ARC and its subsidiaries dating from 1922 to 1938 for free online access. The project will publish authoritative documentation on ARC in the era prior to its purchase by CBS in 1938. The project will also provide streaming access to an important body of works from one of the most fertile eras in American recording history.

“ARC is the missing link between the original Columbia Records that pioneered sound recording in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Columbia Records that still exists today,” says David Seubert, curator for UCSB Library’s Performing Arts Collection and project director for the new grant. “The recordings made by ARC are of intense interest to scholars and collectors, but there has not been a systematic project to document ARC, until now.”

The American Record Corporation and its predecessor Plaza Music Co. owned many significant labels of the 1920s and 1930s, including Columbia, Brunswick, OKeh, and Vocalion. ARC was the third-largest record company in the United States behind Victor and Decca in the 1930s and made some of the most important prewar recordings, often by artists other companies overlooked. Among others, ARC recorded jazz greats Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington; country artists Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts and the Carter Family; and blues and gospel artists such as Mitchell’s Christian Singers and Robert Johnson. The company also had a large Spanish language division.

View the NEH grant announcement:

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

About the American Discography Project and the Discography of American Historical Recordings

The American Discography Project (ADP) and its online database Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR) document and describe for research the 78-rpm disc recordings made by American record companies from the inception of disc recording in the 1890s until the transition to 33 ⅓ vinyl Long-Playing records (LPs) after World War II. The discography includes more comprehensive information on historical recordings than any other online or print resource, with authoritative information on over 400,000 recording masters from nine major record companies: Victor, Columbia, OKeh, Berliner, Edison, Zonophone, Leeds & Catlin, Brunswick, and Decca. DAHR is the largest online database documenting sound recordings of the standard groove era (before 1955) and provides digital access to over 70,000 recordings. Learn more: