This morning we received approximately 80,000 record-data cards that were maintained by a group of prominent collectors and researchers from the 1950s into the 1980s. Members of the group acquired and warehoused a vast number of 78s for research purposes. They painstakingly transcribed all data from the labels and pressings, and that information was cross-checked by other members.
The data cards were works-in-progress — Members investigated tie-ins to other labels, noted even slight variations in labels and pressings, and checked for differing takes by a process they called “SAC-ing” (short for “simultaneous aural comparison”), using a synchronized turntable set-up. The resulting data were of the highest quality, far more accurate than what appears in even some current jazz and dance band discographies. But managing it in the days before personal computers was a daunting task, and much of it went unpublished.
These cards complete our holdings of the late Bill Bryant’s papers (received a few months ago), which include all of Bill’s and the Record Research group’s correspondence, research materials and unpublished manuscripts. The latter were willed to Bill along with the publication rights, which have been acquired by Mainspring.
Besides supplying information for upcoming Mainspring Press discographies, this data will form the core of our Master Discography Database, which is in preliminary planning and development. When completed, it will link the output of a large group of producers who shared masters, including Arto-Bell, Plaza-ARC, Emerson-Consolidated, Grey Gull, Jones Recording Laboratories, the Criterion group, the Fletcher-Olympic group, the New York Recording Laboratories, Cameo, American Pathé, and Federal, among others.
Progress reports to come…Stay tuned!