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The history of performed music is a compelling interest of a growing sector of musicology. Incremental changes in the retrospective reach of copyright in the several countries that were most active in early recording activities inhibit public access to exemplars. Work proceeds nonetheless. Only sites with accessible material are listed here.

The Edison Recorded Sound Archive

Website: Edison Recorded Sound Archive

This collection, administered by the US National Park Service (Thomas Edison's lab is classified as a national historic park), holds 11,000 cylinder recordings and 38,000 disc recordings from the years 1898-1929. Some recordings have been reissued on CDs. In general users may request the copying of one recording at the time. No online access is currently provided from this site, but some materials can be found at other sites. The Archive is rich is related holdings, including black-and-white photographs of early performers (c. 5,000) and correspondence.

Three hundred forty-one silent films made by the Edison company between 1898 and 1912 can be found at the Library of Congress's Inventing Entertainment website.

The Emile Berliner Collection

Website: The Emile Berliner Collection

The inventor of the microphone and the disc recording, Emile Berliner (1847-1929) is survived by 400 documents and 118 sound recordings in the Library of Congress. Like Edison, he experimented with film as well. Digitization of the collection is in progress.

Internet Archive 78RPMs

Website: Internet Archive 78 PRMs

Recordings mastered for 78 rpms (revolutions per minute) were produced prolifically from the 1920s into the 1950s. The Internet Archive collection includes cylinder recordings and 78s. It is searchable in several ways. The download statistics shows that the most popular holdings are songs sung by Enrico Caruso, Bill Murray, Edith Piaf, and Al Jolson. Current holdings number 13,200.

The National Jukebox (US)

Website: The National Jukebox

The National Jukebox, serving selected holding of the Library of Congress in Washington DC, certainly give the flavor of recording. Much of their material comes from the Victor Company (later RCA Victor) and the Berliner Company. It currently (2014) serves more than 10,000 works but remains a work in progress. A substantial range of popular and folk songs from c. 1900 reflects the great ethnic diversity of the U.S. in that era. Yet more than half the materials were recorded in Camden NJ (the home of the Victor Company). Users add the works they want to hear to a playlist and hear streamed examples (the best current workable solution to rites issues). Most available holdings are from the years 1900-1930.

New Zealand Pianola Site

Website: New Zealand Pianola Site

The New Zealand Pianola website is well-known to honky-tonk enthusiasts. Through painstaking research over many years, many hundreds of piano-roll performances have been captured in MIDI files of high quality. The user interface makes searches and launching sound files simple. The music comes mainly from the years 1900-1930. Zipped packages of files can be downloaded. At last reckoning 1040 files were available.