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Dr. Kenneth J. Labudde

About Marr Sound Archives

Marr Sound Archives is located on the ground floor of Miller Nichols Library on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The Sound Archives serves the students, faculty, and staff of UMKC, as well as local community members and scholarly researchers around the globe.

The sound archives was established in 1986, with a foundation gift of 42,000 sound recordings from Gaylord Marr and his wife Olga. An Associate Professor of Communication Studies at UMKC, Marr pioneered the use of historic audiovisual recordings in the classroom. "Why talk about the political climate of Munich in Sept., 1938," Marr asked, "when students can hear the voices of the participants and newscasters on the spot, reporting events as they unfold?"

The collection quickly outgrew its original location in two rooms on the second floor of the library. In 1992, Marr Sound Archives moved to its present location on the ground floor, adjacent to the Music/Media Library. The 2010 construction of the Robot, an automated storage and retrieval system, has allowed the archives’ collections to continually grow.

Today the collection includes over 380,000 items, with a focus on the American experience as reflected in recorded sound. The collection features a wide variety of music genres including jazz, blues, soul, country, popular music, rock & roll, folk, classical and opera. In addition, a large part of the collection contains historic speeches, interviews, and vintage radio programs. The holdings encompass a wide range of audio formats including LPs, 78s, 45s, cylinders, transcription discs, instantaneous-cut discs, open-reel tapes, CDs, and digital audio files.

Over the years, Marr Sound Archives has contributed to a number of projects including Robert Altman’s film Kansas City, Merchant-Ivory Films’ Mr. and Mrs. Bridge; Capitol Records 50th Anniversary; a complete reissue of the recordings of Julia Lee on the Bear Family label of Germany; documentaries on the Kansas City Monarchs, Walter Cronkite and Harry Truman; the radio show This I Believe; and the Mississippi Blues Trails.

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