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A Look Inside the National Jukebox

Gene DeAnna, Head, Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress.

Gene DeAnna manages the preservation, conservation, and cataloging of the Section’s more than 3.5 million sound recording items and oversees acquisitions and outreach activities.

What follows is a guest post by Carla Arton and Harrison Behl, processing technicians in the Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress


In May 2013, the staff-led Packard Campus Institute (PCI) hosted a presentation on the National Jukebox by Gene DeAnna, Head of the Recorded Sound Section at the Library of Congress. In his presentation, Gene showcases several recordings and demonstrates the various features designed to encourage exploration of this amazing trove of recordings. The presentation below is an edited version of a talk delivered to Library staff as part of the Packard Campus Institute (PCI) ongoing lecture series.

[Gene DeAnna Presents the National Jukebox.  (55 minutes, Library of Congress, 2013)]


The National Jukebox launched to the public in 2011, providing unprecedented access to over 10,000 recordings made in the early days of commercial sound recording; before microphones or electrical amplification. These acoustic recordings represent a period of change in the entertainment world, when performances no longer had to be live in order to be heard and the exact same performance could be heard multiple times. Commercialized sound recordings were a technological phenomenon that allowed consumers to bring the voices of popular performers and important persons of the time into their homes.

Acoustical Recording

Acoustic Recording, photographic collection, Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress

The National Jukebox now provides us with the ability to hear those recordings to gain both a deeper understanding of our cultural heritage and to enjoy some of the great performers, popular songs, and important speeches, which have been almost completely inaccessible for decades. More specifically, the Jukebox includes rare ethnic and traditional/country recordings, as well as political addresses and speeches, Shakespearian monologues, popular and classical works by the superstars of the era, the earliest jazz and blues recordings, comedic sketches, not to mention the rich but now forgotten genre of whistling tunes (seriously, check these out).

For your additional entertainment, we have included a scavenger hunt to help you explore the various functions of the Jukebox, as well as find some new favorite recordings and maybe even make your own playlist to share with friends.

Jukebox Scavenger Hunt!

Jukebox Scavenger Hunt!

The Recorded Sound Section at the Library of Congress is currently working on the next phase of the National Jukebox project, expanding the number of recordings and record labels through new partnerships with the Johnson Victrola Museum, Thomas Edison National Historical Park, and the University of Wisconsin. Stay tuned for more.



The “Thriller” at the Packard Campus Theater

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Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (October 23-25, 2014)

Thursday, October 23 (7:30 p.m.) Dark Passage (Warner Bros., 1947) In their third movie together, Humphrey Bogart plays an escaped convict, wrongly accused of his wife’s murder, who takes refuge in the apartment of a mysterious woman (Lauren Bacall) he has just met. Delmar Daves directed this film noir that is notable for the use […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (October 16-18, 2014)

Thursday, October 16 (7:30 p.m.) Murphy’s Romance (Columbia, 1986) James Garner received his only Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the title character Murphy Jones, a widowed druggist in a small Arizona town. He develops a cautious friendship with Emma (Sally Field), who moves to town with her son Jake (Corey Haim) to start a […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (October 9, 2014)

Thursday, October 9 (7:30 p.m.) James Garner on Television Maverick (ABC, 1957-1962) Although he had already appeared in several movies, Maverick is generally credited with launching James Garner’s career. He starred as Bret Maverick, a cardsharp from Texas who traveled across the Old West and on Mississippi riverboats, regularly getting in and out of trouble. […]

Film of the Washington Senators Winning the 1924 World Series Found!

Like any right-minded individual, I rejoiced in the return of baseball to the Nation’s Capital in 2005 and have certainly reveled in the Washington Nationals’ fabulous 2014 season. Exciting as it has been (the post All-Star Game surge, Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the season, the eager anticipation of post-season glory), I […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (October 2-4, 2014)

Thursday, October 2 (7:30 p.m.) National Newspaper Week Double Feature Five Star Final (Warner Bros., 1931) Edward G. Robinson stars as a corrupt newspaper editor who uses exploitation to bolster the paper’s circulation. Nominated for an Oscar as the year’s best film, Five Star Final was a condemnation of yellow journalism. This archetypal newspaper movie […]

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