Utley Record Collection

The Frances Lee Utley Record Collection is the foundational holding of the Center for Folklore Studies Archives. Originally named the Archive for Primitive, Ethnic, and Folk Music the collection was established by Francis Lee Utley in 1963 to promote the study of folk music at the Ohio State University. Since the 1980s, OSU students, faculty, and staff have used the collection primarily as a pedagogical resource for Folklore classes.  

The collection’s contents are diverse in terms of genre, style, and material, and represent a unique resource for scholars interested the historiography of American Folklore, the Folk Music industry, and material culture. Unlike the Traditional Music Archives at Indiana University, Bloomington, the Archive for Folk, Ethnic, and Primitive music focused on collecting commercially produced music. Utley acquired the beginnings of the collection on a trip to New York City in 1963, where he meet with major record label executives and producers to make bulk purchase orders of back catalogues and set up regular orders for new releases.

The collection’s primary holdings include 2100+ 33-inch vinyl records, which were produced from the late 1940s through the mid 1980s. Utley and other center directors purchased these 33s during the height of the folk revival movement from companies including Folkways Vanguard, Prestige, Monitor, Elketra, and other smaller labels. Students, faculty, and staff expanded this initial collection through subsequent purchases and donations. 

The collection contains 800+ shellac 78 resin discs produced during the 1910s-1940s. A substantial portion of this purchased from the Ralph Auf Der Heide’s personal holdings, including labels ASCH, Bluebird, Brunswick, Columbia, Decca, Okeh, Stinson, Victor, among others. Although many of these 78s were republished as 33s, the Center’s holdings represent the wide range of styles and geographic areas in the music industry during the early 20th century. The Center’s 78s also represent an interesting period in material culture, including rare formats (e.g. 12 inch shellac 78s) and 140+ original record folders decorated with period artwork and photographs. 

The Utley Record Collection’s most unique holding are 150 instantaneous discs, which contain unique, one of a kind field recordings (e.g. early American Folklife Festivals; and Ukranian Orthodox Easter Services) and recordings of radio broadcasts.  

A small number of 78s have been digitized and are available by request.