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Sound Recordings

(From left) Cipriano Alvaredo (Quiche), J. P. Harrington, Williams Gates and Charles A. Hoxie with Pallophotophone, circa 1922, 91-35317.

J. P. Harrington posing with three Cuna (Tule) while making dictaphone recordings of Cuna language and songs, 1924, photograph by DeLancey Gill, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, BAE GN 04305a.

J. P. Harrington produced the earliest sound recordings of many languages and, in some cases, the only surviving audio record of the language. His earliest audio recordings were on wax cylinders. Those in good condition were copied to magnetic audio tape in the early 1980s as part of the Federal Cylinder Project. Copies are available for use at both the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In the 1930s J. P. Harrington began recording on aluminum disks. Many of these disks were also copied to audio tape for use in the NAA although corroded disks could not be copied. New technologies are now being developed that will allow us to recover these sound materials and make them available digitally.

A number of the audio tapes have now been digitized.  Access the audio collection through the Smithsonian's Information Research Systems (SIRIS). Please note: only collection MP3s are included.








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Sincere appreciation and thanks to those who helped make the Harrington collection more widely accessible to the interested public. Support for preparation and digitization of the collection for online access has been provided by the following:

Arcadia Fund; Colorado College Library; Cow Creek Band of Umpqua; Pechanga Band of Luiseno; Recovering Voices, SI; Rosetta Project, Long Now Foundation; Save America’s Treasures, DoI; Matthew Vestuto, on behalf of BarbareƱo/VentureƱo Band of Mission Indians; Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival (AICLS); and the Collections Program of the National Museum of Natural History.


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