When most of us think of the year 1917, we probably recognize it as the year the United States officially entered World War I. In the realm of sound recordings, two other entrances are particularly noteworthy: the Original Dixieland Jazz Band released what is generally considered to be the first jazz recording, and Abe Schwartz made his first recordings for Columbia Records.

This is the first in a multi-part series focusing on the people who are making possible the digitization, archiving, and preservation of the Mayrent Collection. This month I interview Andrew Gaines, a recent UW-Madison graduate whose work on the Collection allowed us to provide metadata in its original, transliterated, and translated forms. 



The Mayrent Institute is now home to twelve cylinders recorded at the turn of the twentieth century that afford novel access to the earliest strata of Yiddish theater. Issued circa 1901 by the innovative but ill-fated Thomas Lambert Company, the recordings are yardsticks of Yiddish popular culture and of sound recording itself, which arose and matured simultaneously.