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Ethnomusicology Archives

Ethnomusicology ArchivesAbout: The Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives has been col­lecting and curating unique ethnographic music recordings, videos and films since 1962. Its holdings of over 50,000 items include field recordings documenting music traditions of all kinds from most areas of the world, concert recordings of visiting musicians, and films and videos of a variety of musical events, as well as several hundred musical instruments. The Archives is also home to the Seattle Sounds Archiving Project (SSAP), a growing collection of local and regional music. The Archives serves the students and faculty in the UW Ethnomusicology Program, the broader university community, Pacific Northwest tribes, and an international clientele of musicians, students, and teachers.


Access: The Archives is currently open by appointment. Archival recordings are avail­able for on-site access. Depending on collection agreements, some mate­ri­als may be accessed online. Stu­dents are par­tic­u­larly encour­aged to uti­lize archival mate­ri­als to assist with class projects and help pre­pare for their own field work. The Archives employs sev­eral stu­dents each year and works infor­mally with most eth­no­mu­si­cology stu­dents as they begin to con­sider record­ing for­mat options, equip­ment pur­chase, the prac­ti­cal prob­lems of doc­u­men­ta­tion in the field, and other issues related to their research. Stu­dents and other researchers are invited to deposit their field col­lec­tions in the Archives, which offers secure stor­age and com­puter cat­a­log access to all materials.

To make an appointment with the Curator, or to find out more about the Archives, call (206) 543‑0974 or ethnoarc@uw.edu

Our Mis­sion

  • To sup­port the instruc­tional and research mis­sion of the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton and the Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Program.
  • To apply pro­fes­sional sound archiv­ing stan­dards to the per­for­mance of the archival tasks of col­lec­tion, doc­u­men­ta­tion, access, and preservation.
  • To pro­vide archival ser­vices to a world­wide clien­tele of stu­dents and researchers.
  • To safe­guard the musi­cal her­itage embod­ied in the Archives’ recorded collections.
  • To encour­age respon­si­ble eth­no­mu­si­co­log­i­cal field research and appro­pri­ate doc­u­men­ta­tion, stor­age, and preser­va­tion of result­ing research materials.
  • To bal­ance the need for open, unre­stricted access to research mate­ri­als with the need to restrict access due to pri­vacy con­cerns or cultural/spiritual restrictions.

Policies & Use

Col­lec­tion Policy

  • The Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives col­lects ethno­graphic doc­u­men­ta­tion of all kinds, with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on sound record­ings, film, and video. The Archives accepts col­lec­tions on a deposit or gift basis and does not pur­chase materials.
  • A “Con­tract for Deposit of Mate­ri­als” is nego­ti­ated between the archivist and the depos­i­tor in each case to reflect the spe­cific require­ments of the col­lec­tion. Depos­i­tors are encour­aged to impose as few restric­tions as pos­si­ble or to restrict access only for a lim­ited period.
  • Col­lec­tions are gen­er­ally not solicited by the Archives, but the deposit of mate­r­ial of local or regional impor­tance is encour­aged and wel­comed. Because of its loca­tion in the Pacific North­west, the Archives has become iden­ti­fied as an appro­pri­ate repos­i­tory for both his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary record­ings of music of North­west Coast peo­ple. In hous­ing and pre­serv­ing such col­lec­tions, par­tic­u­lar atten­tion is paid to issues of song own­er­ship, appro­pri­ate use, and access by mem­bers of Native com­mu­ni­ties. It is Archives pol­icy to make copies of these record­ings at cost for request­ing tribal groups.

Facil­i­ties Use

  • The Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives is a closed-stack facil­ity. Most record­ings are avail­able for lis­ten­ing or view­ing on-site under the super­vi­sion of Archives staff. Stu­dents and teach­ers, as well as researchers, are wel­come to visit. Because of extreme space lim­i­ta­tions in the Archives, most lis­ten­ing or view­ing needs to be sched­uled in advance.
  • Vis­i­tors with a gen­eral inter­est in music of a par­tic­u­lar area or genre are encour­aged to con­sult the Music Library Lis­ten­ing Cen­ter col­lec­tion (Music Room 19). Many com­mer­cial record­ings of eth­no­mu­si­co­log­i­cal inter­est are located in the Lis­ten­ing Cen­ter, with access avail­able through the library’s on-line catalog.
  • The Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives con­tains non-commercial, unpub­lished record­ings and accom­pa­ny­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion which gen­er­ally require some pre­vi­ous knowl­edge to use effec­tively. Archives staff are avail­able to assist vis­i­tors find the infor­ma­tion they need.

Media Dupli­ca­tion Policy

  • Record­ings in the Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives may in some cases be avail­able for dupli­ca­tion. Requestors should fill out the "Media Dupli­ca­tion" request form avail­able from the Archives (email ethnoarc@uw.edu). All requests are to be autho­rized by the Archivist and addi­tional per­mis­sion obtained as necessary.
  • There is no easy answer to the ques­tion, "May I get a copy of ____?" Most col­lec­tions in the Archives were deposited by field researchers; their deposit agree­ments on file in the Archives are the basis for deci­sions regard­ing media dupli­ca­tion. Sim­i­larly, for con­cert record­ings, the for­mal agree­ment between the artist(s) and the Archives must be consulted.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton stu­dents who study with vis­it­ing artists in the Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Pro­gram often per­form in con­certs with those artists dur­ing their stay. Sin­gle copies of those per­for­mance record­ings are gen­er­ally avail­able to the stu­dents who per­formed in them, unless the vis­it­ing artist pro­hibits such copy­ing; stu­dents are asked to pro­vide their own blank discs or tapes in these cases.
  • Requests to license Archives record­ings for pub­li­ca­tion or broad­cast are encouraged and should also be sub­mit­ted to ethnoarc@uw.edu.