A few months ago we added a collection of early wildlife recordings, published during the first half of the 20th century, to the British Library’s Archival Sound Recordings website. It may come as no surprise that published material from Ludwig Koch dominates the current selection, with digitised recordings from titles such as Songs of Wild Birds (1936) and Animal Language (1938) being among the most popular plays.
The majority of these recordings were originally released on gramophone records, presented in box sets and accompanied by illustrated literature that provided the listener with information about the animals they were hearing, possibly for the very first time. The Carl Weismann recordings however, came from his original archive discs which are now held by the Library.
The plan is to add more examples of early commercial wildlife recordings from the gramophone era over the coming months. Highlights will include the first commercially available wildlife record (Carl Reich’s Actual Bird Record made by a Captive Nightingale) which dates back to 1910 and a series of speciality publications featuring wildlife sounds incorporated into traditional musical pieces such as Londonderry Air and The First Noel.