Here is a summary of cylinders at IU:

Indiana University's Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative completed digitization of 6,444 cylinders the week before last. Nearly all of them were brown wax and were recorded in the field.  The cylinders are held by the Archives of Traditional Music in IU Libraries and contain ethnographic material from all over the world. Dating from 1893, they were recorded in 60 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. There are many languages represented, particularly Native American. The digitization project was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

We have discovered a small number of additional cylinders on campus, mostly commercial, and will digitize them in the next few weeks. 

There is a blog post on the playback machine we used at

and a video on YouTube


Mike Casey
Director of Technical Operations, Audio/Video
Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative
Indiana University

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Eli Bildirici
Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 11:28 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [External] Re: [ARSCLIST] Counts of Wax Cylinders in Collections

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Talk to the IU contingent

-------- Original Message --------
From: Hugh Paterson III <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 01:50 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Counts of Wax Cylinders in Collections

>Thank you for the responses. They are most appreciated and extremely 
>I was able to connect (via phone) with Bill Klinger the chair of ARSC 
>Cylinder sub-committee.
>He was most helpful in helping me to clarify what I am looking for when 
>I originally said "cylinder holdings".
>For those of you who are working with or have cylinders, I am more 
>interested in ethnographically oriented content which usually would be 
>classified as "field recordings" and are usually cut on relatively soft 
>brown-wax cylinder blanks. This is in contrast to the the global body 
>of mass-duplicated "commercial entertainment cylinder records" (molded 
>using harder black wax or celluloid).
>My interests is in seeing which languages have old recordings from this 
>era and what quantification of items there are in these languages. This 
>is similar to my previous post on January 24th 2019
>about facilitating the exposure of these collection specifically for 
>people looking for language content.
>Bill suggested to me based on his working knowledge of holdings that  
>in specific libraries, archives, museums, and private collections 
>(around the world), He thinks it is safe to cite the survival of at 
>least 100,000 field recordings in the cylinder format, worldwide.
>As Adrian Monk would say: "100,000 its a nice round number...."
>- Hugh
>On Tue, May 14, 2019 at 3:30 AM Jennifer Vaughn 
><[log in to unmask]>
>> As of 2011, the Belfer had 19,750 cylinders; 11,971 were unique titles.
>> The numbers probably haven't significantly changed since then.
>> Cheers,
>> Jennifer (formerly of Syracuse)
>> ________________________________
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List < 
>> [log in to unmask]> on behalf of Paul T. Jackson < 
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2019 12:10 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Counts of Wax Cylinders in Collections
>> Such would take quite a bit of research; asking, searching, and 
>> compiling. A supplier of boxes might be interested, but I'm not sure 
>> who else might find it useful to know. There are a number of cylinder 
>> collections noted on the Internet; some with counts, some without. 
>> Using the string "recording cylinder collections count" you will find 
>> many collections. One would also have to conduct a search of the 
>> categories of cylinders, e.g. Field recordings, oral history, et al.
>> Paul Jackson
>> Trescott Research
>> Steilacoom, WA
>> On 5/13/2019 11:53 AM, Hugh Paterson III wrote:
>> > Greetings,
>> >
>> > Where can I get a count of the wax cylinders in various archives?
>> >
>> > I mean LOC is claimed by Press Releases to have the largest 
>> > collection in the USA. But I can't find a count.
>> > ATM@UI claims just under 7000. But I don't see an exact number 
>> > anywhere (but maybe I'm not looking in the right place?)
>> >
>> > University of California Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of
>> Anthropology
>> > was part of the IRENE project but I don't see a full count. Someone 
>> > says
>> > 148 but I suspect this might be scoped to a single Indigenous language.
>> >
>> > In contrast to these numbers in the hundreds and low thousands, 
>> > Tjeerd de Graaf in various publication cites number in the tens of 
>> > thousands for the  Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv and an archive in St. 
>> > Petersburg Russia, and for
>> Vienna.
>> >
>> > Any pointers?
>> > - Hugh Paterson III
>> >
>> > ---
>> > This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
>> >
>> >