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Smithsonian Folkways Magazine

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Moses and Frances Asch

(Folkways Records)

Folkways Records was founded in 1948. Led by Moses Asch (1905-1986), Folkways sought to document the entire world of sound. The 2,168 titles Asch released on Folkways include traditional and contemporary music from around the world, spoken word in many languages, and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, and current events. Folkways grew to be one of the largest and most influential record companies in the world. Folkways Records and the label's business papers and files were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. Every recording is kept in print.

The Asch Collection includes:
  • Recordings owned by and produced by Moses Asch (acetate disc, 78s, LPs)
  • Master tapes for Folkways Records
  • LPs for most of the the 2168 titles released by Folkways Records
  • Business papers and correspondence
  • Artwork for various Folkways recordings
  • The Woody Guthrie Papers (described separately)
  • Photographs

"The real owners of Folkways Records are the people that perform and create what we have recorded and not the people that issue and sell the product."
— Moses Asch

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