Universal Music Group is donating over 200,000 historic master recordings to the Library of Congress. UMG’s donation is the single largest gift ever received by the Library’s audio-visual division and the first ever major collection of studio master materials the Library has received.
Among the recordings to be preserved for posterity are Bing Crosby’s 1947 version of “White Christmas,” Louis Armstrong singling “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Les Paul’s “Guitar Boogie” and the Mills Brothers’ “Paper Doll.” The library will stream recordings from the collection on a website that will be launched in the spring.
“It is certainly within the national interest to acquire this recorded collection, and all its accompanying materials, for custodial care,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in a statement. “A surprisingly high percentage of America’s recording heritage since the early part of the 20th century has been lost due to neglect and deterioration. The donation of the UMG archive to the Library of Congress is a major gift to the nation that will help maintain the inter-generational connection that is essential to keeping alive, in our collective national memory, the music and sound recordings meaningful to past generations.”
Established in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal
cultural institution. Its mission is to “further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people,” according to its website. It has over 142 million items covering books, recordings, manuscripts, photographs and maps. The Library’s Recorded Sound Section has more than 3 million sound recordings.