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Emory University (Atlanta, GA 30322-1018)
Jesse P. Karlsberg (Project Director: July 2020 to present)
Sounding Spirit Digital Library: Digitizing Southern Vernacular Sacred Song

The digitization of 1,284 books of vernacular sacred music from the U.S. South published between 1850 and 1925.

The Sounding Spirit digital library provides access to 1,284 books of vernacular sacred music from the US South published between 1850 and 1925. This corpus of gospel songbooks, collections of spirituals, shape-note tunebooks, and hymnals offers critical insights into the lived experience of Americans who used these works to navigate a modernizing turn-of-the-twentieth-century musical landscape. Led by a team of humanities scholars and technologists based at Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship, the Sounding Spirit digital library includes six partner archives holding an impressive range of southern sacred song. Digitizing and making accessible works representing the sacred music making of blacks, whites, and Native Americans, and supporting their interpretation via digital collections and descriptive entries, the Sounding Spirit digital library recasts our understanding of American music for a broad public of researchers, teachers, and practitioners of sacred song.

Project fields:
American Studies; Folklore and Folklife; Music History and Criticism

Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Preservation and Access

$346,781 (approved)
$344,687 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2024