Randy Riddle Phonodisc Collection, 1920s-1965

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Riddle, Randy (collector)
Randy Riddle is a Senior Consultant in the Teaching Innovation Department, Duke University, and a collector of rare phonodiscs. Collection includes aluminum, lacquer, shellac, and vinyl discs of various sizes.
5 Linear Feet
321 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Randy Riddle Phonodisc Collection includes three series: Commercially-released Records, Radio programs, and Non-radio programs. The Commercially-released Records series consists of thirty-four 12 inch (78 rpm) gramophone records and one 45 rpm record, most of which were marketed to Black audiences as "race" records. Each includes two songs, one per side, by an artist. Most of the records are in good or excellent condition. Artists represented in this collection are: Emitt Slay Trio, Bert Williams, Moran and Mack, The Orioles, Billy Wright, The Couplings, Bob Howard and his Boys, The Midnighters, Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids, The Clovers, Chuck Miller, Miles Davis and his Orchestra, The Original Casuals featuring Gary Mears, Eunice Davis with Orchestra, Ivory Joe Hunter, Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, Howlin Wolf, Varetta Dillard, Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra, Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five, Carson Robinson, Young Jessie, Chuck Webb and his Orchestra, Socko Underwood, Brownie McGhee, and Bull Moose Jackson and his Buffalo Bearcats. One disc, by Johnny Rebel, is a white supremacist recording of hate speech supporting the Ku Klux Klan.

The Commercially-Released Records series has not been converted to a digital format, meaning that there are no use copies available at this time. Use copies must be made before researchers can access this material. Contact the Rubenstein Library with questions.

The Radio programs series includes both 12-inch, 16-inch, and 17-inch transcription discs, on carriers including aluminum lacquer, shellac, and vinyl. Programs include recordings of both original on-air broadcasts as well as rebroadcasts by organizations such as the Armed Forces Radio Service. Frequently, the discs include only excerpts or pieces of a program, and program runs are not complete (many include only one or two episodes). Titles in the collection are: Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen (stamper discs), Aladdin Lamp, Alka Seltzer - Vass Family/Hoosier Hot Shots, American Cancer Society Fund Drive, American Family Robinson, American Radio Newsreel, America's Famous Fathers, Any Bonds Tonight and Americans at Work, Armed Forces Radio Service: Supper Club, Battle at Thunderblow, Bea Kalmus, Behind the Scenes in Hollywood, Billie Burke Show, Calling All Cars, Canary Pet Show, Choose a Song Partner, Christmas Seals Campaign, Clif and Lolly, the Nuts of Harmony, Coke Club, Coleman Cox, Columbia demonstration record, Curtis H. Springer for Acidine, D-U-Z Does Everything promotional record, Dwight Eisenhower the Grass Roots Boy, FBI in Peace and War, Fraternal Order of Eagles Speech, Gillium and Atterbury/The Two Daffydils, Gleason and Armstrong, Globe Theatre, Grady Cole and the Johnson Family Singers/Douglas MacArthur Speech, Harlem Hospitality Club, Hearts in Harmony Prevue, It's Time to Smile, Lest We Forget, Light Up and Listen Club, Louie's Hungry Five, Mad Hatterfields, March of Dimes Campaign, Mercury Theater on the Air - War of the Worlds, Monticello Party Line, NBC promotional disc - Introduction to Listen Magazine, NBC promotional record - Good New Summertime, Ollendorf Watch Makers, Pick and Pat, Plantation Echoes, Police Reporter, Ports of Call, Red Horse Ranch, Reno Rides the Range, Sally in Hollywoodland, Skinner's Romancers, Southland Echoes, Suspense - the Lost Special, Tandy Mackenzie and His Hawaiian Music, This is the Blue Network, Twenty Questions, Uncle Remus, Union Leader Tobacco, Weird Tales, When a Girl Marries, Witch's Tale, Works Progress Administration Presents, WREN Lacquers, and Your Home Front Reporter. Other programs include discs associated with the 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition and the Townsend Plan, and one laserdisc, the Sears 1981 Summer Tele-Shop Catalog.

The Radio Programs series has digital use copies available for the bulk of the items, including high-resolution scans of some records' labels. Original transcription discs are CLOSED to use. Digital use copies are indicated in the item lists for each program, as a digital "SET," and may be requested using the Request button on the collection guide page.

The Non-radio programs series includes narration phonodiscs for use in the 1933 Century of Progress International Exhibition, phonodiscs accompanying information on the Townsend Plan, and a digital version of the Sears Roebuck catalog on laserdisc.

Biographical / historical:

The music and recordings in this collection were acquired and donated by Randy Riddle, a Senior Consultant at Duke Teaching Innovation, Duke University. The collection includes both commercially-released phonodiscs marketed to Black audiences as "race" records, and radio programs.

"Race records" is a phrase describing 78 rpm gramophone records made for and by African Americans during the early 20th century. These recordings typically contained blues, gospel, jazz, or comedy programs targeting African American audiences. Recording companies marketing race records included Okeh Records, Emerson Records, Vocalion Records, and the Victor Talking Machine Company, among others. By the 1960s, "race records" on the Billboard chart had been replaced by the phrase "rhythm and blues."

The radio programs in this collection are a variety of recordings from numerous shows that aired in the 1930s through the 1960s. Some of these discs are the only known copies of the program in existence.

Acquisition information:
The Randy Riddle Phonodisc Collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 2010 and 2011.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, April 2010; September 2011.

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, April 2010; September 2011.

Additional processing and encoding by Emily Shao and Craig Breaden, May 2022.

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2010-0051, 2011-0149, 2021-0142

Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Blackface entertainers
Commercial catalogs
Minstrel shows
Radio advertising
Townsend Plan, Inc.
Radio broadcasting -- 1930-1940
Radio broadcasting -- 1940-1950
Radio broadcasting -- United States
Radio plays
Audiovisual materials
Phonograph records
Buffalo Bearcats (Musical group)
Cab Calloway Orchestra
Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.)
Chick Webb Orchestra
Clovers (Musical group)
Couplings (Musical group)
Emitt Slay Trio
Fraternal Order of Eagles
Homeland Harmony Quartet
Johnson Family Singers
Mercury Theatre
Midnighters (Musical group)
Moran and Mack
Mutual Broadcasting System
Original Casuals (Musical group)
Orioles (Musical group)
Pick & Pat (Comedy team)
Sears, Roebuck and Company
United States. Armed Forces Radio Service
FBI in war and peace (Radio program)
Mercury Theatre on the air (Radio program)
Suspense (Radio program)
War of the worlds (Radio program)
Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971
Arquette, Cliff
Bowen, Jimmy
Browne, Reno, 1921-1991
Burke, Billie, 1885-1970
Calloway, Cab, 1907-1994
Webb, Chick
Cox, Coleman
Davis, Eunice (Vocalist)
Davis, Miles
Dillard, Varetta, 1933-1993
Gleason, James, 1886-1959
Howard, Bob, 1906-1986
Howlin' Wolf, 1910-1976
Hunter, Ivory Joe, 1914-1974
Jackson, Bull Moose, 1919-1989
Jordan, Louis, 1908-1975
McGhee, Brownie, 1915-1996
Michael, Sandra
Miller, Chuck (Vocalist)
Remus, Uncle (Storyteller)
Robison, Carson
Slay, Emitt, 1917-1970
Springer, Curtis Howe, 1896-1985
Trahan, Pee Wee
Underwood, O.G. (Oliver G.)
Welles, Orson, 1915-1985
Wiley, Fletcher
Williams, Bert, 1874-1922
Wright, Billy, 1932-1991
Young Jessie, 1936-2020


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Original recordings are restricted due to fragile formats; however, digital copies are available for most of the recordings.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Randy Riddle Phonodisc Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.