Marr Sound Archives

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The Marr Sound Archives holds over 400,000 audio and audiovisual recordings, with a focus on the American experience as reflected in recorded sound. The Sound Archives serves the students, faculty, and staff of UMKC, as well as local community members and scholarly researchers around the globe.
Welcome
Explore the physical collection
Listening Room
Experience sound with provided audio equipment
Marr Sound Archives
See vintage record players and historical artifacts
Digital Duplication
Request audio and video reproductions
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What to Expect

Room G10 is an open area for listening to the collection and studying. However, there are restrictions on this space, including:

  • No food or drink is allowed within this space
  • Priority is given to researchers consulting the department’s material
  • Access is limited to open hours of the department, which differ from the rest of the library.

Tours & Consultations

The Marr Sound Archives offers guided tours and instructional classes. Advanced notice and permission is required.

This week's hours

Marr Sound Archives

Collections & Resources

The focus of the collection is the American experience as reflected in recorded sound. The archives’ holdings include over 300,000 recordings of jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, spoken word, vintage radio programs, popular, rock and roll, soul, opera, classical and numerous other genres of music.

Marr Sound Archives staff provide collection access for in-person researchers and respond to email and phone inquiries during regular department hours. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are strongly recommended for large research projects and in-depth reference assistance. Staff retrieve all requested material for researchers to consult on-site in designated research areas.

Background: Duke Ellington playing piano. From the Dave E. Dexter, Jr. Collection, UMKC Digital Collections

Physical Items

Some of our commercially published items can be requested for digital duplication if the item is out of print and not available elsewhere (ex. Spotify, iTunes).

Duplication of Physical Items

Some of our commercially published items can be requested for digital duplication if the item is out of print and not available elsewhere (ex. Spotify, iTunes).

In most cases, unique archival items (ex. lacquer discs, open reel tape, cassettes) are not available for physical use due to format degradation issues. These items are digitized upon requests (or provided at once if already digitized) for users. These request will be fulfilled in the form of a link that provides live-streaming playback. Users have to fill out the Duplication Request Form (PDF) for these requests. Alternatively, you may order copies if you’re a student, faculty, staff, or individual. See pricing below.

History of the 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.

Gaylord Marr seated with Chuck Haddix