Popular Music of World War I: A Living Archive


This is a living archive.

It is not a collection of images—charming, surprising, attractive, or appalling though they might be. Nor is it a reconstructed museum specimen—the bleached bones of something that was once alive and vital. Nor is it even an historical compendium of names, places, firms, titles, or tunes. It is all of those things, of course—but it aspires to be more.

Its design is meant to emulate an organism: it is in the relations between its parts that life is found; the parts, dismembered, cease to breathe and grow. But in an important respect it will always fall short of true vitality: it has no agency, no power to act. That agency rests with you—a different organism; together with this archive you constitute a larger being whose interrelations create meaning, insight . . . life.

These webpages are meant to facilitate—but not control or prescribe—those interrelations. The five components—description, history, conventions, spreadsheet, and user’s guide—can be accessed in any order; and, indeed, each component includes clickable links to the others, to encourage you to wander among them. You are invited to work with the components and the archives to build new relationships within and among them and you.  Indeed—and more—you are asked to create your own invitations to others: publish your thoughts in a forum of your choice; write blogs, write wikipedia articles, write learnèd tracts; clothe the archival organism in your own discoveries by means of the email address or comment box provided on every webpage. 

This living archive is a tool for research—your research.