Special collections are focused groups of related materials, donated or funded by an individual(s) or institution. A named collection usually involves ongoing financial support, and/or a focused effort to grow the collection by contribution of recordings or helping to recruiting others to donate relevant materials. All major donations electronically link the donor to the recordings in our databases, and you can search a growing number of these collection by name in our online catalog.
Keith Richard Blues Collection
Keith Richards, guitarist with the Rolling Stones and ARC Board of Advisors member has funded a Blues collection for the past eighteen years. This support allows us to add hundreds of rare recordings annually to the collection, as well as to catalog this material. One of the rarest recordings at the ARC and in this collection is a 78 by Robert Johnson, “Me and The Devil Blues”/”Little Queen of Spades.” (Vocalion, USA, 04108, 78rpm, 10″, 1937) – one of only 10-15 copies known to exist. Here’s a gallery of Blues albums from this collection.
Zero Freitas Brazilian Music Collection
Zero has been an active ARC patron since 2011 when we began working on Brazilian Music Week. His own archive in Sao Paulo is easily one of the largest in the world – millions of recordings from home and abroad. His gracious donations have made ARC the largest collection of Brazilian music outside of Brazil. Look for this collection to grow over the years as donors including B. George, Beco Dranoff, Allan Bastos, David Byrne, Richard Zirinsky and all the great folks who participated in Brazilian Music Week add new materials.
Jeep Holland Collection
In 1986 it was the Jeep Holland Collection of more than 100,000 classic rock and pop recordings that gave the ARC its bedrock collection. Jeep was a legendary Boston collector, who’s donation contains more than 300 signed albums (Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Sex pistols, etc), 800 picture discs and all the releases and some master tapes from A-squared Records, one of the Midwest’s more important indies, home of the MC5.
Jonathan Demme Haitian Music Collection
This Caribbean collection is comprised of Board member Jonathan Demme’s personal collection of Haitian LPs, joined with ARC’s existing discs. Mr. Demme is a champion of Haitian causes and has produced documentaries on the music and political challenges of this Caribbean nation. Until his death Mr. Demme continued to collect materials and shepherd this important group of recordings.
Richard W. Zirinsky Jr. Collection
Spring 2019 brought ARC one of the largest and best collections of CDs every donated. Mr. Zirinsky (1964-2018) was a real estate developer, philanthropist and record label co-founder – born in, lived in and loved New York. His Adventure Music label was the leading, Grammy nominated (Symphonic Jobim and Ricardo Silveira’s Noite Clara) Brazilian Jazz label in the States. Beyond the more than 10,000 Brazilian recordings and thousand of box sets, this treasure trove contained hundreds of Pop releases by favorites like Elvis Costello and Reggae legend Gregory Isaacs. Yet to be cataloged are the 1,200 LPs and the thousands of live unreleased recordings by a wide range or pop and rock artists from around the world. Thanks to the Zirinsky family for this generous donation.
Adam Goldstone Dance Collection
Adam was a friend of ARC and the family generously donated his remarkable record collection to ARC in 2008. Adam had come to New York in the late ’80, ostensibly to attend film school, but I first met him while DJing at after-hours club Save the Robots. By his own admission Adam’s style was wildly eclectic, but he produced great house records and could move a crowd of 3,000 as well as a small club in the Village. This is a superb collection of mostly twelve-inch dance singles. Adam passed in 2006 and you can visit a memorial tree dedicated to Adam in Tompkins Square Park.
Rockaway Records Collection
Over the years Gary Johnson has donated collections into the thousands. Recordings that his great LA Rockaway Records Store deemed not-quite-legal to sell, or so amazingly rare only ARC should have them. This includes 98 Grateful Dead live cassettes housed in illustrated cases made by the Deadhead community in the 70s, 375 one-of-a-kind rock music acetates, 314 music library CDs, and over 1000 live and rare discs and videos. Of note is the medical report detailing the death of Marvin Gaye and hundreds of Kiss bootlegs. Recently Gary sent 9 large boxes of materials including 1/4″ and 1/2″ audio production reels of many Stiff Record’s artists and from Capitol records, original Beatles publicity photos from the 1996’s release, The Beatles Anthology.
35,000 ‘zines + onesheets
The subCulture Collection is a major collection and index of popular music literature, with an emphasis on self and fan produced material from the garage, punk and hip-hop eras, roughly 1970 to 1985. While the focus is alternative music publications worldwide, era-defining memorabilia and artifacts are also collected. The collection merges major donations from the Donny the Punk Collection, Volume / B.George Collection, Daniel Grobani Collection (West coast), Nancy Breslow/Short Newz Collection and thousands of individual contributors.
Jean Gallia Collection of French Popular Music
A magnificent group of 5,590 mint condition LPs and seven-inch singles compiled by Mr. Gallia, the host of New York’s longest running (20 years) French language radio program. Jean’s donation consisted of 3,640 LPs, 1,950 seven-inch singles (nearly all in picture sleeves) plus ten 78s. ARC already housed 7,205 Francophone recordings that were merged with this gift to create America’s largest collection of French popular music.
Spoken Word Recordings
Spoken word, radio drama, poetry, prose, speeches, instructional material, course study, demonstrations, rants, idle chit-chat, transcriptions, prayers, broadcasts, self recorded greetings, advertisements, sporting events, audio-books and theatrical plays on record are all preserved here at the ARC on all tape and disc formats. One highlight is unreleased recordings of Paul Bowles reading a few of his stories, recorded in Morocco by director, B. George. This collection is largely uncatalogued.
Green Linnet Irish Folk Music Collection
In addition to nearly 500 recordings (all formats) released by this label, Green Linnet founder Wendy Newton has donated her source recordings that both informed and inspired her. This donation includes 900 Irish, Scottish and British Isles LPs, primarily recordings by pipers, accordionists and fiddlers. This material, as well as ongoing donations from the label, is combined with ARC’s similar existing material to create this collection.
The ABC Radio 45 rpm Record Collection
In 1999 the ABC Television and Radio Libraries in both New York City and Los Angeles donated more than 60,000 seven-inch singles. As these radio stations transitioned from a music to a talk format, ARC was asked to preserve a treasure-trove of pre-release, (such as 23 Bob Dylan radio-play-only white labels), special and regular releases – all in beautiful condition.
B.George Independent Label Collection
50,000 + discs
ARC director, as the author of VOLUME, amassed an important collection of 1970s and 1980s Punk, New Wave and independently released pop material from small labels from around the world. This includes complete or near complete runs of releases by labels such as SubPop, Factory, Stiff, DefAmerica, Bomp, Tomato, Lovely, Celluloid, etc., and includes contributions by David Byrne, Fred Schneider, Donny the Punk, John Peel, Don Voisine and many other relevant artists and collectors.
B.George World Music Collection
31,000 + discs
ARC houses more than 30,000 LPs, CDs and cassettes of popular music from around the world. This is the largest collection of World Music in the Americas. While primarily from Africa, Central/South America and the Caribbean, significant collections of ethnic and sub-group musics of the United States are also collected, such as Klezmer, Tejano, American Indian and Zydeco music.
David Chomowicz + Esther Ready Latin Collection
8,000 + discs
South American Latin recordings donated by graphic artist and designer David Chomowicz and his wife who inherited the collection from an anonymous collector. This is mostly near mint condition material, half LPs and half 78rpm recordings. The bulk are Tango Recordings, about 1,200, all Argentinian pressings. One nice touch in this very pristine collection is that many of the 78rpm discs have hand-decorated covers that the donor made for recodings that were originally issued in corporate generic sleeves.
James M. Doran Piano Jazz Collection
280 discs, 300+ books
Mr. Doran, author of Herman Chittison : A Bio-Discography, (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, monograph No. 2, 1993) created and sponsors this group of recordings by jazz pianists, focusing on Erroll Garner and Herman Chittison, including CDs made from personal taping sessions, interviews with the artists, and rare copies of “Casey, Crime Photographer” a radio show Chittison played on regularly. Jim pictured here with the 300+ Jazz books he also donated.
Audio Works by Visual Artists
ARC’s director issued one of the first LPs of music by visual artists working in the 70s, including Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk, under the rubric, ‘performance art’ (Airwaves, One Ten Records, 001, 2LP set, 1977). This area of interest led to the creation of one of the premier collections of commercially released and one-of-a-kind Artists’ recordings, sound art, Poesia Sonora, Fluxus, electronic and experimental music recordings. This collection was an essential source for more than 200 illustrations for Taschen Book’s Art Record Covers by Francesco Spampinato. 2017
Comedy on Record
3,400+ catalogued discs
ARC houses one of the finest collections of Comedy on record. Of special note are our ‘Party’ records, primarily ribald Black underground recordings of the 50s and 60s. This collection was used to help reissue both Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx material on CD. Included are a great many British Classic comedy recordings: Goon Shows, Flanders and Swann, Eric Idle and Neil Innes, Peter Sellers, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, etc… This collection is in the process of being digitized in conjunction with the Internet Archive in San Francisco.
Cuban Music Collection
5,830 catalogued discs
This collection of LPs, 78s, 45s, CDs and books was begun by Mr. George after trips to Cuba in 2000, and added to on subsequent visits. Current material is contributed by many Cuban labels including Acheré, Areito, Artex, Bis, Egrem and Unicornio. Egrem, Cuba’s State-run label, has contributed a complete run of available CD releases. Also helping out are Allan BAstos and Ed Steinberg. To date we have scanned 80 plus Cuban music history books in both English and Spanish. In May, 2016 ARC joined with Cubadiscos in Havana to create Cuba Music Week.
Dance Music Collection
Board of Advisors members Nile Rodgers and Jellybean Benitez have spearheaded our collection of Club and Dance material. These two artist/producers have donated their collections, and helped with obtaining others from leading DJs and clubs to create the largest collection of 12” dance singles in the world. Other contributors include DJs Francois Kevorkian, Richard Sweret, Ivan Ivan, Mark Kamins, Adam Goldstone, the collection of Rockpool and regular donations from Giant Steps.
ARC holds a near complete run of the Smithsonian Folkways recordings, two copies of each disc, all formats (LP, CD, with some unique Cassette packages), 80% of the LPs mint. While recently MP3 versions of most of this material has become available online, access to the full dynamics of the analog recordings, the packaging and liner note booklets are scarce. Scott Stowell at Open utilized ARC’s holdings to help design the Smithsonian’s Harry Smith box, Anthology of American Folk Music.
Barrie H. Thorpe/Batavia Illinois Public Library Collection
In 2013 the Batavia Public Library in Illinois donated 48,000 ten-inch seventy-eight rpm pop, big band, jazz and blues recordings to ARC. The collection was donated to them in 2007 from a local collector, Mr. Barrie H. Thorpe (1925–2012). ARC arranged the entire collection to be housed and digitized with our partners at the Internet Archive in San Francisco, and to use the collection for an ongoing project by artist, Allen Ruppersberg, who’s first version was exhibited at the Greengrassi Gallery, London, Mar-Apr, 2014, For Collectors Only (Everyone is a Collector). Thanks to former Board member Tom Cvikota who organized all the details.
ARC’s Jazz collection is among the top-ten in the country. When Lincoln Center created the Jazz Hall of Fame at the Time Warner Building, they utilized ARC for jacket scans of seminal recordings for the opening exhibition. So while we continue to grow our Jazz collection, this hire reveals some of our greatest strengths – the organization of our material, easy access and ability to work quickly and accurately. In 2005 two hundred rare and out-of-print CRI LPs were donated by BMI.
Jewish Heritage Collection
A small but important collection begun by Nonesuch Records in 1998 with the donation of the source recording, mostly original 78s, used to inform Mandy Patinkin’s exploration of Yiddish song on Mamaloshen. Also grouped here are Jewish folk music, cantorial recordings, Israeli pop and rock, Yeminite, Klezmer, and Sephardic song.
Broadway, Film + Radio Collection
The collection of film soundtracks at ARC is second to none. Two directors on our Board of Advisors, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme, have a devoted interest in the recorded film soundtrack. Jerry Bock, author of “Fiddler On the Roof,” has donated his personal collection of Broadway recordings as well. In late 2005 Ron Saja at Footlight Records, at the time America’s largest retailer of soundtracks, donated 25,000 recordings. We also host complete runs of many radio programs on record. Candy is dandy, but we also have a copy of Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita signed to ARC director B. George by Sue Lyon.
NBC Music Library
An early core collection came to us in 1991 when the NBC Music Library was getting rid of their 10,000 plus LPs. For years this material was used for needle drops, the technique of using recordings for snippets of music played in real time, during live radio and television broadcasts. Most of the records were near perfect, but every now and then there were orange grease pencil marks to indicate a cue, and many of the covers had Dymo black tape on the front cover.
Music of the Islamic World
This collection began with 2,500 discs in the ARC, a core group of recordings contributed by the British Library, and acquisitions from ARC’s Muslim World Music Day, April, 2011. In May of 2005 Youssour N’Dour agreed to join the ARC’s Board of Advisors and to spearhead the building of this collection. This collections is a section of ARC’s Muslim World Music Day, where catalogued another 9,616 recordings.
Asian Indian Music Collection
This collection was built through the acquisition of classical and popular recordings during the ARC’s Indian Music Week, Oct, 2012. Other major contributors include Dr. Brian Silver and Thomas Hoover who donated his personal collection of 300+ LPs.
The Bill Adler Holiday Collection
Bill was an executive at Def Jam and is known for his writings on hip hop and rap. Secretly he harbors a love for all sounds Christmasy, every year producing an amazing compilation and scouring the earth for Holiday tunes – and every year he donates his post-production finds to ARC. Combining our material with Bill’s has resulted is a major Christmas and Hanukkah collection, with a little New Year cheer thrown in. Look for a gallery to be mounted on our site next December. By the way, ARC director B. George and Bill have known each other since their UofM school days, for more than 40 years.
Recordings of all formats signed by the artists. Some real rarities here, like the first UK Rolling Stones LP signed by the entire band, including Brian Jones. Or a lobby card from the Grande Ballroom in Detroit signed by Jimi Hendrix. Most of these come from Jeep Holland, with a large supplement of discs signed to ARC director B. George. Regular contributors include Dean Taucher and Ben Liemer. In the works is a touring show of all our signed records, books and photographs (like Chubby Checker dancing with a giant Oreo cookie) titled, “Signed Sealed and Delivered.”
Shaped, Plastic, Paper and Picture Disc Collection
ARC maintains large collections of novelty, promotional, cardboard, postcard, home-recorded, souvenir and flexidisc recordings. Some of these items are both silly and wonderful. Did you know Bing Crosby owned a promotional cardboard record company? Also included here are Beatles’ Christmas fan-club messages on flexidiscs, as well as many celebrity head shots, looking a little too much like a head shot.
Salamon & Ward Country & Western Collection
Two donors, curiously both named Ed, have made substantial donations of C&W materials to ARC, here combined into one focused collection. In 2002 Ed Saloman, former Executive Director of the Country Radio Broadcasters Association Inc. donated 11,000 singles and 3,300 LPs. Ten years later Ed Ward dropped off 14,982 singles, some LPs and a lovely collection of Country music song books. You can view many of the best Western songbooks covers in the gallery, and for now you can search for them by entering ‘Ed Ward’ in the search box on the books catalog page.
Bluegrass, Old Timey + String Band Music Collection
With the addition of 453 bluegrass LPs by out-of-the-blue donor John Prael,and the recording donated by David Hinkley, Ed Ward, Ed Salamon and the odds-and-ends that ARC has accumulated over the years we have separated out the Bluegrass, Old Timey and String Band Music from our Country Music Collection to create this focused group. Great stuff here ranging from better known artists like Bill Monroe (48 LPs) to the lesser known old-timey Skillet Lickers (15 LPs). Here’s a blog about Mr. Prael’s donation and a list of everything in the collection
In 2013 the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, DC. literally cleaned out their basement and donated 32,000 LPs and 7,000 seven-inch forty-fives. VOA is the official radio service of the US government broadcasting overseas and the station had accumulated a great many recordings over the years, seldom referenced these days. A big thanks to Dr. Brian Silver for organizing this gift. The discs seemed to have never been played, the covers were perfect, but a quick flip revealed a zealous, practical, maddening interest in indicating what’s what!
Seventy-Eight RPM Collection
ARC’s original mission was microgroove recordings, but as many relevant artists have careers prior to the introduction of LPs and 45, and as we are often asked for scans of labels from 10″ recordings prior to the mid 1940s, we have accumulated a large number of 78 rpm discs. Honest, we didn’t mean to… But little-by-little we were getting rare and wonderful recordings by early rock’n’roll, blues, hillbilly, folk, country, gospel and jazz artists on shellac. How could we refuse a signed Paul Robeson 78? Recent donations include thousands from Jason + Mark Bradburn and 72,000 from the J.T. Jr. Collection – a record store inventory stored in a warehouse for more than 30 years. Lucky for us we have room to store them in San Francisco, a joint collection with the Internet Archive.
Shapiro + Bernstein Acetate Collection
Music Publishers Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. made a priceless donation of ten-inch acetates. These one-of-a-kind, one-sided discs were created by songwriters, publishing companies and song pluggers to attract potential performers and record companies to a composition.
Dave Sanjek-James Roy BMI Collection
Modern experimental Modern Classical LPs from New World Records, CRI, Opus One, Orion, Serenus, Turnabout Vox, Demeter, Fortuna, Crystal, ICMC, Echo and numerous vanity pressings. Sixty albums are signed by composers such as Lou Harrison, Elliot Carter and Tom Johnson. The collection was created by James Roy, former head of BMI’s Concert Music Department and donated by former BMI archivist Dave Sanjek (1952-2011). One uncharacteristic highlight is a copy of These Are My Songs signed by Otis Blackwell, author of “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up.”
Luaka Bop Records Archive
60 file boxes
David Byrne’s collection of photographs, graphics, press kits and business papers pertaining to his label, Luaka Bop Records.
Mood Media Video Collection
25,327 video masters
Mood Media is the leading business music provider in the world – the inheritors of the Muzak legacy. This collection consists of 25,327 one-inch music video masters, primarily commercially released material from the 1980s and 1990s. This is an invaluable resource with a great many of the videos already transferred to digital format and donated to ARC. The full list of all the donated video is posted on our Catalogs page.
Other Media + Paper Collections at the ARC
Books + Periodicals
Current holdings number 18,000 books, 3,000 songbooks, 23,000 pieces of sheet music and 50,000 periodicals, magazines, fanzines and selected newspapers. While research books, encyclopedias and general reference are in daily use in our research area, the bulk of this material is boxed and/or stored alphabetically by artist. From 2015-2019 books were scanned through a generous donation from the Internet Archive. search the book catalog >>
ARC collects all paper memorabilia and ephemera associated with popular music. This includes press kits issued by artists, PR firms and record companies and newspaper and magazine clippings (approx. 2 million pieces) handbills, flyers and posters for performance (20,000), and flat art and related industry graphics. One third of the artist’s files are sorted alphabetically by artists, in folders. The majority of all paper materials are loosely grouped, but not strictly alphabetized. A future gallery will be our collection of 60s handbills from the Grande Ballroom in Detroit. Much of this materials is included on our focused subCulture Collection.
Current holdings number an estimated 50,000 photographs. Most of the photos are publicity material, to accompany press releases. A few photographers, like Lynn Goldsmith and Laura Levine, both known for their many Rolling Stone covers, have donated original works.
3-D music-related materials are often donated to ARC, primarily buttons (badges), record totes and carry-cases, music themed board games, clothing with logos, toys and dolls, gold records and awards, and various food and drink items endorsed or named for musicians. We’ll be posting a wide range of this material in a future gallery.
While not a major area of collecting, ARC has accumulated a wide range of playback and broadcast equipment, including many machines designed for obsolete mediums, such as audio 8-Track players, wire recorders, 78 rpm Victrolas, laserdisc machines, etc…
Moving Image Collection
Our current film, video, DVD and electronic-capture moving image collection numbers more than 70,000 items, primarily VHS video, including 3,000 music DVDs . Currently this material is bulk-stored in labeled containers. RockAmerica, the largest archive of pop music video and a pioneer in the field, has donated a great many videos and pledged masters and 25,000 rock videos when proper storage facilities are secured. Other contributors include Tima Surmelioglu, and Mark Weinstein at RnR Freelance who donated a collection of over 600 rare and out-of-print Hip-Hop and Black dance music videos. In 2015 ARC added the Mood Music collection of 25,000+ music videos.