The National Archives Recorded Music Association 

This month’s hashtag party is all about music—from instruments to marching bands, from R&B singers to orchestra leaders, from record players to boomboxes, let’s make a beautiful noise together. Join the conversation Friday, March 3, 2023, on Instagram and Twitter by using #ArchivesHashtagParty and #ArchivesMusic!

During World War II, as part of an effort to provide more entertainment opportunities for the large number of federal employees and service members who had flooded into Washington, DC, the National Archives Association sponsored a series of free musical programs. The organizers, who called themselves the Recorded Music Association, coordinated with other federal agencies to offer programs in the auditorium of the National Archives Building.

The programs offered a variety of music—orchestral, chamber, piano, and vocal music. Staff tried to select music that wasn’t readily available or frequently heard during concerts. 

The Recorded Music Association came into existence after the National Archives Association’s first concert. National Archives staff member Charles L. Stewart organized a concert on December 8, 1942, featuring the music of four composers—Hector Berlioz, César Franck, Ernest Chausson, and Maurice Ravel. Stewart not only provided the phonograph records that participants listened to, but he also wrote the program, which included the composers’ biographies and information on the music featured. 

After Stewart left to serve in the military, National Archives employee Mildred Moore became the executive secretary of the newly created Recorded Music Association (RMA). The RMA invited music lovers to participate in the programs by attending a concert or by lending phonograph records of lesser available music.

Because of the large interest in the programming and the limited space in the National Archives auditorium—it could only accommodate 216 guests—only federal employees, their families, and members of the military were originally invited to attend programs. But by 1944 it was opened up to the public as well. 

Once the war ended, so did the Recorded Music Association. But the tradition of hosting musical programs still lives on at the National Archives facilities all over the country.

Visit the National Archives Calendar of Events webpage to see what types of musical—and other—programs being offered both in person and virtually.

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