Launched in May 2011, the Library of Congress (LOC) "National Jukebox" is a website that provides free access to over 10,000 recordings from the 1901 to 1925 time frame. These initial recordings represent the entire collection of Victor Talking Machine Company 78rpm disc library.
Sony Music, which currently owns this recording collection, teamed up with the LOC in allowing public access to these recordings accessible at www.loc.gov/jukebox. The LOC plans to add more recordings to this collection periodically and indicates that soon, collections from Columbia, Universal Music and Okey will be added.
The recordings are available for online streaming use only. They may not be downloaded for use on your MP3 players, etc.
This is an amazing collection. I have particular interest as I own an old Victrola and have appreciation for these old, pre-vinyl 78rpm discs. The collection includes popular music classical music, ethnic music, opera, ethnic characterizations, musical theater, humorous songs, ragtime/jazz, spoken word, religious, comedies, monologues, dialogues, and recitations, descriptive specialties, blues, ethnic spoken word, traditional/country, whistling, speeches, and...yodeling.
You can browse through these categories or search by name, artist, date and other attributes. Here are some examples.
I searched for "bunny" and found this 99 year old recording "The funny bunny hug"
Acclaimed Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso is well covered in this collection. His 1904 recording of Vesti la giubba is the 1st sound recording to sell over one million copies.
Found this 1923 Will Rogers comedic monologue on war. One of his suggestions was for countries to move away from each other rather than go to war, like marriages. Would be interesting hearing his take on wars of today.
One more. Here's an August 23, 1920 instrumental recording of "Avalon" performed by the Ambassador Orchestra led by Paul Whiteman. A foxtrot. 90 years old. Love this stuff.