Thanks to the New England Folk Music Archives, the Cambridge Historical Society is happily housing more than 2,300 individual Rounder titles on site. The collection is believed to be the entire run that the label released on CD.
What is Rounder Records?
A trio of university students founded Rounder in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1970. It quickly became the major independent label for bluegrass and folk, and recorded a lot of blues, reggae, and world music.
This historically significant musical catalog deserves archival sleeving and a research-friendly shelving system to allow scholars and enthusiasts to explore the decades of music that it contains. The Society is prepared to take that step, but it needs your help.
What Does the Cambridge Historical Society Want to Do?
Here's the plan:
The Goal: The Rounder Records collection at the Cambridge Historical Society is being archived and cataloged with the assistance of James O'Brien, Ph.D. Our goal is to raise $3,800 to create a long-term archive at the Cambridge Historical Society building on Brattle Street.
How to Get It Done: Staff and volunteers will add nearly 30 linear feet of archival shelving and then transfer the more than 2,300 individual CDs — and all of their liner notes — from space-hungry jewel cases into slim archival sleeves. These will then be shelved in archival-quality binders and processed as an archival collection under the supervision of the CHS Archivist (this will probably involve ordering according to subsidiary labels, such as Bullseye Blues, Flying Fish, Heartbeat, and Zöe, artist, and release date).
When It Will Happen: Fall 2012 and onward, with new research scheduled to start on the collection immediately following its proper cataloging.
Why Do This: The collection is important. From field recordings by Alan Lomax, to numerous series of world and regional folk music from the Library of Congress, the Rounder Records CD catalog represents a deep well of work that is valuable to musicologists, folklorists, and musical researchers of all kinds. But the records in this collection are also moving, authentic, fun, and representative of the full spectrum of artists and genres that Rounder celebrated throughout the years.
Some examples of what the Cambridge Historical Society has already identified within the holding:
— There are the albums of well-recognized and important singer/songwriters of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, players such as Bill Morrissey and Ellis Paul.
— There are recordings by Folk Revival luminaries such as Mimi Farina and Mike Seeger.
— The blues: from Mississippi field recordings to important transitional artists such as Jelly Roll Morton to important mid-20th Century performers such as Otis Clay and Charles Brown.
— The Rounder albums take us into the near present, too, featuring the 2002 landmark debut by Kathleen Edwards, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's groundbreaking duo release, and albums by indie icons such as They Might Be Giants and Juliana Hatfield.
There's so much more to be discovered. The collection spans decades of original recordings, more than a half-century of music in the genres of blues, bluegrass, old time, folk, world, and singer-songwriter. This is only the start. We hope you'll agree it's an important step!
It does not. Per Kickstarter's rules, if we don't meet the minimum goal, no money is collected from our very kind donors.
Since we can't access everyone's generosity until we hit the $3,800 mark on Kickstarter, it's super important to go for our goal on this site. Your contribution here enhances and augments all the pledges from the kind folks who also support this work. Thank you for considering our Kickstarter page as the fundraising method for this project.
Yes, a modest one. We have accounted for it in the number we chose for our goal. The services make their small, single-digit percentages, and the project still gets funded at a level that will ensure its success.
You may set your pledge at any amount you like, regardless of whether it conforms to the reward levels listed. And we will grant you the reward, of course, that corresponds to the highest threshold you have passed.
The Rounder CD collection will be cataloged in stages, over time, but the idea is to break out all kinds of data for researchers and those interested in this material. This part of the project is focused upon getting the collection into physical shape for that work. And a basic finding aid to help us focus on individual parts for deeper cataloging once that's done. A database of credits is certainly on the table.
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