This page presents our collection through “sets” of featured materials. The sets bring together brief thematic introductions with related items in the database. Our “collections“ link interrelated material from a particular archive, collection, or company. “Featured sets” amalgamate all digitised items around a key figure, technology, or theme in the history of acoustics and sound; “publication related clusters” gather materials related to a publication by the “Epistemes of Modern Acoustics” group.




Mara Mills and Jonathan Sterne, “Aural Speed Reading: Some Historical Bookmarks,” PMLA 135, no. 2 (March 2020).

Birdsall, Carolyn, and Viktoria Tkaczyk. "Listening to the Archive: Sound Data in the Humanities and Sciences." Technology and Culture 60, no. 2 (2019): S1-S13.

Viktoria Tkaczyk, Mara Mills, and Alexandra Hui: Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, online August 2020, print October 2020).


This set consists of digitized sound recordings of animal sound (mostly birds), which were produced and published for purposes of popular entertainment, teaching, hunting, and scientific research in ornithology and bioacoustics. The collection includes recordings gathered and digitized by historians of science Jackson Pope, Joeri Bruyninckx, and Alexandra Hui. The majority of recordings was produced between 1950 and 1975 by professional and semi-professional field recordists in the United States, Canada, and Britain.  

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, psychologist Carl Stumpf and his colleagues at the Institute of Psychology in Berlin made the phonograph into a research tool for tone psychology, as is documented by a collection of roughly a hundred Experimentalwalzen (experimental cylinders). Today, these cylinders are preserved at the Phonogramm-Archiv in Berlin.

This sets concerns the history of the Geluidstichting (Sound Foundation) and Nederlands Akoestisch Genootschap (Dutch Society for Acoustics).

This collection, assembled by media historian Matthew Hockenberry, contains a selection of telephone journals and associated materials from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The collection was digitized by Fabian Voigtschild, Jonathan Sterne, and Mara Mills. The set features a collection of material from the papers of sound engineer Anton Springers.

Gathered by historian of architecture Sabine von Fischer, this set consists of sound photographs taken by Franz Max Osswald, the founder of the first laboratory for the study applied acoustics at ETH in Zurich, ca. 1930. These photographs, which are now finally archived in ETH’s image library, demonstrate how the non-visual senses claimed a presence in photography’s presumed visual objectivity.

What is today known as the Lautarchiv (“sound archive”), based at the Humboldt University, Berlin, contains the remaining traces of almost a century’s endeavors in scientific sound archiving: 7,500 shellac recordings and smaller collections of wax cylinders, tapes, and aluminum discs.