The Center holds approximately 172,000 commercial sound recordings, in formats from early cylinders to compact discs and MP3 files, as well as about 450 hours of archival recordings. The commercial collection of 78s, 45s, vinyl LPs, cassette tapes, compact discs, and digital files has been assembled to represent the full breadth of America's popular music recording history. Cataloging of the collection is underway but no records are currently available online. The collection is generally organized by label and release number. Please contact the Curator of Recorded Media Collections for details on access and availability.
Archival recordings available to researchers include a variety of historically significant materials, including:
Early recordings of arranger Ferde Grofé, John W. Work, III of Fisk University, and fiddler Tommy Magness, among others.
More than 150 hours of oral history recordings, including the Cusic Collection of interviews with southern gospel composers, publishers, and singers, and the Gayle Dean Wardlow Collection of interviews with Mississippi Delta African American musicians.
270 hours of taped lectures, performances and interviews, including lectures by music industry executives to students of the MTSU recording industry program, 21 hours of Alabama African American religious singing, and 136 hours of tapes from Center programs, lectures, concerts, and field work.