Scope and Contents
Title: Non-Commercial Disc Collections
Collection number: ARS.0033
: 10411 discs (132 3-7" discs ; 1432 10" discs ; 2491 12" discs ; 4682 16" discs)
Archive of Recorded Sound
The Archive of Recorded Sound's Non-Commercial Disc Collections consist of over 10,000 phonographic disc recordings from a
variety of donors, the majority of which are either broadcast transcriptions or instantaneous recordings. None were ever available
for sale to the general public, and many are unique.
Language of Material: Multiple languages
Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for
Property rights reside with repository. Publication and reproduction rights reside with the creators or their heirs. To obtain
permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Head Librarian of the Archive of Recorded Sound.
Non-Commercial Disc Collections, ARS-0033. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries,
Scope and Contents
The Archive of Recorded Sound's Non-Commercial Disc Collections consist of over 10,000 disc recordings from a variety of donors,
most of which are either broadcast transcriptions or instantaneous recordings. None were ever available for sale to the general
public, and many are unique. Despite the variety contained in this collection, the majority are related to radio broadcasting.
Recordings were either produced for broadcast or captured from broadcasts as air checks.
Transcriptions were made in a variety of sizes (often 16 inches to accommodate a longer playing time), and were typically
vinyl or other plastic pressings, but many were instantaneous. Some earlier transcriptions were made of shellac. These discs
reflect the diversity of the Golden Age of radio, with recordings of music, drama, news, commentary, advertisements, public
service announcements, and educational programming.
Instantaneous discs, on the other hand, could be made by virtually anyone with access to a recording machine. These were recorded
one at a time, and while it was possible to make duplicates, most are also one of a kind. These recordings, sometimes referred
to as lacquers, acetates, or soft-cuts, were not the first recordable media (blank cylinders were available since the beginning
of recording), but for over twenty years they were the dominant form of recording. The collection even contains a few discs
recorded in the mid-1970s.
Content was only bounded by what could be placed in front of a microphone. These discs were used in professional recording
studios, concert halls, record-your-own-voice booths, living rooms, and in the field. Some are merely dubs of other recordings;
this was especially common with collectors prior to the reissue industry. Others capture live performances and are of inestimable
A major component of the collection is armed forces-issued recordings. These were used for a variety of purposes, including
recruitment, entertainment, and instruction. Other types of recordings in the collection include soundtracks, sound effects
and production discs for motion pictures, promotional giveaways and premiums, and demos and vanity pressings by recording
studio clients (not all of whom, it should be noted, were amateurs).
Only a portion of the collection has been described below. Multiple recordings on a single disc, missing and damaged labels,
conflicting or no information, and the inability to aurally preview contents make cataloging these discs a challenge. Also,
there are serious preservation concerns with ancient recordings on such fragile media. Some discs are no longer playable.
The Archive maintains a comprehensive off-line database of the collection. Please contact ARS for further information.
This finding aid was produced with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Live sound recordings