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Melville Jacobs Collection inducted into National Recording Registry

The Melville Jacobs Collection of Native Americans of the American Northwest is one of 25 recordings inducted by the Library of Congress

Melville Jacobs (1902-1971) was an anthropologist and linguist recognized for his groundbreaking ethnographic fieldwork among Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest. Following his death, UW Libraries acquired his collection of field recordings.

Made on wax cylinders and instantaneous discs, the recordings include the languages, musical practices and tales of the Athabascan, Chinook, Coos, Kalapuya, Lummi, Lushootseed, Sahaptin, Tillamook, Tlingit and Tsimshian. Some document the final speakers of a dialect and are now important tools for tribes as they revive teaching and awareness of their languages.

Each year, the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress chooses 25 recordings from public nominations that highlight the range and diversity of American recorded sound. The Melville Jacobs Collection joins Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” among the 2018 inductees.