Audio Archives

Library of Congress: American Memory Collection

Person Describing Archive

Celyn Harding Jones (2010); Chelsea Obodoechina (2020)

Is this primarily a poetry audio site?

N (all forms of archived material)

Sponsoring Person or Institution

U.S. Library of Congress

Site URL

Site Last Updated
Date Visited


General Description of Archive

The American Memory Collections are online audio collections of the U.S. Library of Congress. It is a very basic, rudimentary site that lists the Collections by Title that includes location, category, dates, media types with a short description. Each Collection has a separate website that has a separate search and browsing functions, and have resources like "About the Collection, Map of the Region, Selected Bibliography, Collection Connections and How to Order the Audio".

Description of archive history or URL

The archive began in the 1920's by the Library of Congress, and around the same tme, the Library's Archive of American Folksong began collecting recordings. American Memory project began collecting audio and other documents in 1990, and by 1994, the library was able to use the internet to disseminate some of its information. It continues to digitize and post their documents online.

Contact information

unable to get contact information. An email form available here:

Searchable options

This search is terribly organized. There is a keyword search bar, but it does not search all of the collections. There is a list of items that are and aren't included in a link--which ends up being very confusing and cumbersome if you must go through different collections to search. Below the search bar, there is a list of some collections. You can click-off several collections to remove them from the search.

Relation from the audio to the text

None. Most of these recordings are music files.

Date/Time/Length/Context info about the audio items

Information given: Item #, Title of song, Performers, Collected by, Date, Format, Notes, Call Number, Digital ID.

Author bios and context within literary history

Some composers/musicians/recorders or collectors have a bibliographical page, but not every audio is related to context.

Audio file type: streaming, download, file format, audio file compression quality (WAV, MP3, bitrate)

MP3, Real Audio, WaveForm.

Multimedia integration (pictures, video, etc.)

Very little multi-media integrations: one picture is available on the page of every collection, unless you are looking at photographic records.

Audio playback setup (opens in Flash player, on new blank screen, etc.)

The recording opens a new play bar in the same window which is a black screen.

Mobile access (i.e. accessible on smart phones, tablets, etc.)



UPDATE (Chelsea Obodoechina): Mobile access is possible, but the website does not cater to mobile devices. Functionality may vary depending on the device.


Browsing feels stunted on this site. Separate collections are on different websites, and it is sometimes difficult to navigate back to the home page or a different collection. The web design is very basic and looks like it hasn't updated since the early 2000's.

Discovery features (pre-made playlists; dynamic lists: lists of recent additions, featured items, related items, etc).
Interactivity and Web 2.0 features


Other notes

This site must contain some amazing recordings, and hundreds of audio files, but because of it's outdated design, it is hard to navigate and understand exactly what's available online.