Boston Public Library’s 78rpm Records Come to the Internet

This won’t help you discover your ancestors but will help you learn about the music they enjoyed. Following eighteen months of work, more than 50,000 78rpm record “sides” from the Boston Public Library’s sound archives have now been digitized and made freely available online by the Internet Archive.

Art Tatum

I am sitting here listening to It Had to be You by Jazz legend Art Tatum. The fidelity is what you would expect from a 78 rpm record made in 1944. That is, it is definitely low fidelity. However, it is obvious that Art Tatum was a keyboard maestro.

You can learn more about this new Boston Oublic Library’s additions to’s collection of old music at while the collection itself may be found at: also has more than 5 million audio recordings available, starting with some of the very first recordings ever made on Edison’s wax cylinders up through more than 13 thousand Grateful Dead recordings from the 1960s through 1990s. You may find a few recordings by other artists in even later years. You  can search the entire music collection by starting at:


Thanks as always! I was hoping this would be a “primary source” sound upgrade over vintage blues compilations as found on CD (for instance) but the original 78s sound very rough, even the sound file versions they chose as “best”. Maybe these were discs checked out to the public by the Library over the years ;-).
I compared a selection of these online files, A/B’ing them with the very same songs from a few blues artists I am familiar that I had already collected from other sources. While vintage blues re-releases (especially in the ’90s) often suffered from heavy-handed noise reduction, they and more recent re-releases sound clearer and more full overall than what the Library is offering. Nevertheless, it’s great to have this collection freely available.


Thanks for sharing, Dick. It’s fun to listen to.


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