Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Discographic Sources

In the list that follows, publication numbers are used to identify the source of individual recordings in the master database, which will be made available on the CLIR Web site,

1. Jazz/Ragtime
1.1 Lord, Tom. 2004. The Jazz Discography, ver. 4.4. Vancouver, B.C.: Lord Music References, Inc. (CD-ROM).

2. Blues, Gospel
2.1 Dixon, Robert M. W., John Godrich, and Howard Rye. 1997. Blues & Gospel Records, 1890–1943, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
2.2 Leadbitter, Mike, and Neil Slaven. 1987. Blues Records, 1943–1970, Vol. 1 A–K. London: Record Information Services.
2.3 Hayes, Cedric J., and Robert Laughton. 1992. Gospel Records 1943–1969, A Black Music Discography. London: Record Information Services.

3. Country, Folk
3.1 Russell, Tony. 2004. Country Music Records, A Discography, 1921–1942. New York: Oxford University Press.
3.2 Numbered source not used.
3.3 Whitburn, Joel. 1989. Top Country Singles 1944–1988, 4th ed. Menomonee Falls, Wisc.: Record Research Inc.

4. U.S. Ethnic Groups
4.1 Spottswood, Richard. 1990. Ethnic Music on Records. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

5. Popular/Rock/R&B
5.1 Whitburn, Joel. 1986. Pop Memories 1890–1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisc.: Record Research Inc.
5.2 Rust, Brian, and Allen G. Debus. 1989. The Complete Entertainment Discography, 1897 to 1942. New York: Da Capo Press.
5.3 Rust, Brian. 1975. The American Dance Band Discography 1917–1942. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House.
5.4 Whitburn, Joel. 1996. Top R&B Singles 1942–1995. Menomonee Falls, Wisc.: Record Research Inc.
5.5 Whitburn, Joel. 1997. Top Pop Singles 1955–1996. Menomonee Falls, Wisc.: Record Research Inc.
5.6 Whitburn, Joel. 1993. Top Pop Albums 1955–1992. Menomonee Falls, Wisc.: Record Research Inc.
5.7 McGrath, Bob. 2000. The R&B Indies. West Vancouver, B.C.: Eyeball Productions.
5.8 Whitburn, Joel. 1973. Top LP’s 1945–1972. Menomonee Falls, Wisc.: Record Research Inc.
5.9 Numbered source not used.
5.10 “New Records for Talking Machines.” The Phonoscope 1(2), December 15, 1896, p. 18. New York.
5.11 Collection of 21 catalogs and other release lists of the Columbia Phonograph Company of Washington, D.C., 1890–1894.

6. Classical
6.1 Arnold, Claude Graveley. 1997. The Orchestra on Record 1896–1926. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
6.2 Moses, Julian Morton. 1949. Collector’s Guide to American Recordings, 1895–1925. New York: American Record Collectors’ Exchange.
6.3 Clough, Francis F., and G. J. Cuming. 1952. The World’s Encyclopedia of Recorded Music. London: London Gramophone Corporation.
6.4 Myers, Kurtz. 1978. Index to Record Reviews. 5 vol. Boston: G. K. Hall.

7. Other
7.1 Rust, Brian. 1979. Discography of Historical Records on Cylinders and 78s. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
7.2 Raymond, Jack. 1998. Show Music on Record. Falls Church, Va.: Self-published.

8. National Recording Registry (Library of Congress)
8.1 National Recording Preservation Board. 2002 National Recording Registry. Available at‑2002reg.html.
8.2 National Recording Preservation Board. 2003 National Recording Registry. Available at‑2003reg.html.

Discussion of Sources

1.1 The Jazz Discography is a database on CD-ROM that brings together a large number of discographical citations previously published in other sources, supplemented by a modest amount of new research. The work covers 1896 to 2001 and claims to include 136,000 sessions and 238,000 tunes. Since it is a database, with the basic entry unit being a recording session, the sampling methodology had to be modified slightly. We sorted recording sessions by year, selected random years between 1896 and 1964, and then chose random sessions and recordings within those years.

We did not use two other well-known jazz discographies, Jazz and Ragtime Records, 1897–1942, by Brian Rust (Denver: Mainspring Press, 2002) and Jazz Records, 1942–1962, by Jorgen Jepsen (Copenhagen: Karl Emil Knudson, 1965–1966), because they are now subsets of Lord. Likewise, an “umbrella” discography similar to that of Lord, 85 Years of Recorded Jazz, by Walter Bruyninckx (CD-ROM; Mechelen, Belgium: Self-published, 2002), was not considered because it is being issued in parts and had only reached the letter “T” at the time of this study. For a detailed analysis of the Lord and Bruyninckx discographies, see Brooks 2002.

2.1 Blues & Gospel Records is the standard reference on African-American blues and gospel recordings prior to World War II. There is no known general reference to White gospel or religious music of this period, although many such listings are found in source 3.1.

2.2 A second volume of Blues Records 1943–1970 was published covering the letters L through Z (Mike Leadbitter, Leslie Fancourt, and Paul Pelletier, Blues Records, 1943–1970, Vol. 2. London: Record Information Services, 1994). It is out of print, and we could not locate a copy in time for inclusion in this study. For the purposes of the study, we believe that the percentage of recordings that are protected and reissued in the letters A through K serves as a representative sample.

2.3 Gospel Records 1943–1969 is the standard reference on post–World War II Black gospel.

3.1 Country Music Records, A Discography, by Tony Russell, the long-awaited first general discography of pre–World War II country recordings, was originally scheduled for publication several years ago. Publication was delayed past the compilation of this study. However, through the kindness of Mr. Russell and the Country Music Foundation, Steven Smolian was given access to a virtually complete manuscript from which to draw a sample. A related work (Guthrie T. Meade, Dick Spottswood, and Douglas S. Meade, Country Music Sources: A Bio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002) covers the same period with supplementary musicological information, but, in terms of the record listings needed for this study, it is essentially a subset of Russell.

3.3 Top Country Singles is an index to the Billboard country charts, which varied from a top-10 (or less) to a top-50 format during the pre-1965 period.

4.1 Ethnic Music on Records, published in seven volumes, is the standard reference on pre–World War II ethnic recordings made in the United States, with a few omissions (e.g., Hawaiian recordings). No general discography exists for imported or post–WWII ethnic recordings.

5.1 Pop Memories 1890–1954 claims to list recordings that made the best-seller charts during the stated period. The chart positions before 1940 are fictional and unreliable since there were no record-popularity charts at that time; after 1940, positions are based on real Billboard charts. However, the book does list a wide range of presumably popular recordings from very early periods, and it is widely used. For a detailed analysis of this book, see Brooks 1990 and Friedwald 1994.

5.2 The Complete Entertainment Discography lists popular singers, omitting a few who have major discographies of their own.

5.3 The American Dance Band Discography has some overlap with Lord (source 1.1), although ADBD focuses primarily on extensive coverage of nonjazz dance bands. This is one of the most widely used discographies among collectors of pre–WWII popular music.

5.4 Top R&B Singles 1942–1995 lists best sellers from Billboard charts.

5.5 Top Pop Singles 1955–1996 lists best sellers from Billboard charts.

5.6 Top Pop Albums 1955–1992 lists best sellers from Billboard album charts. A random sample of individual album tracks was drawn from this work for the period 1955–1964.

5.7 The R&B Indies (two volumes) contains numerical listings by label of (according to its author) “every” identifiable R&B 78-rpm and 45-rpm recording from about 1945 to the 1970s. Coverage includes blues, gospel, R&B, zydeco, soul, and funk on 4,500 independent record labels.

5.8 Top LP’s 1945–1972 is an earlier edition of source 5.6. While less detailed than the later source, it was used to provide LP listings before 1955.

5.10 Because of the limited number of listings found in modern discographies for recordings of the late 1890s, this original multilabel listing of new releases from the 1896 trade newspaper The Phonoscope was used for a limited number of selections.

5.11 Modern discographies include even fewer listings for recordings of the early 1890s, a period that is at the frontier of current research. As a result, we did not find enough listings in standard discographies to meet our quota for 1890–1894. Since only one label of this early period (Columbia) is still protected, we consulted a collection of 21 Columbia catalogs and release lists from 1890 to 1894 (photocopies in the collection of Tim Brooks) to augment the sample used to determine the percentage of protected recordings from this period that has been reissued on CD. Because this source lists only protected recordings, it was not used in compiling the sample used to determine the percentage that are protected or nonprotected.

6.1 The Orchestra on Record 1896–1926 lists classical orchestral recordings.

6.2 Collector’s Guide to American Recordings lists classical vocal recordings of the period 1895–1925. This book was first published in 1936, revised in 1949, and reprinted several times since with substantially identical contents.

6.3 The World’s Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (aka WERM) is a general list of classical records from 1925 to 1950, with supplements.

6.4 Index to Record Reviews is an index of reviews of 16,500 classical and other LPs that appeared from 1948 to the 1970s. An earlier version, Record Ratings, by Kurtz Myers and Richard S. Hill, is incorporated in the 1978 edition. To make this a selective list, we chose only recordings rated by the reviewer as neutral or positive.

7.1 Discography of Historical Records on Cylinders and 78s lists historical spoken-word recordings made before 1942.

7.2 Show Music on Record lists original cast recordings from U.S. productions arranged by show. A revised electronic version of this definitive reference source by Jack Raymond is on the Library of Congress Web site (

8.1 2002 National Recording Registry (NRR). Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian of Congress is responsible for annually selecting a group of recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” These recordings must be at least 10 years old. Nominations are garnered from members of the public and from the National Recording Preservation Board, which is composed of leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound, and preservation. Fifty selections are announced each year; however, many are in fact groups of recordings or broadcasts. For the purposes of this study, we considered only commercial recordings as defined by this study. If the NRR entry selected represented a group of recordings, we randomly chose one recording from it. For calculation purposes, we assigned recordings drawn from the NRR to the appropriate five-year span and genre.

8.2 2003 National Recording Registry. Same rules as for 2002.

Table A-1. Estimated number of U.S. releases listed in each source


*Number of tracks that do not duplicate single releases.
**Many NRR listings are groups of recordings.


Skip to content