Special Collections

Wild Bill Davison Collection

Wild Bill Davison, a cornettist from Defiance, Ohio, was an active jazz musician.  Donated by his widow in 1995, the Wild Bill Davison collection contains recordings, books, and sheet music. His papers are held in BGSU's Center for Archival Collections. Finding Aid

Bob Dylan Collection

This Bob Dylan Collection contains approximately 500 cassette tapes gathered by Colbert Cartwright, late of Fort Worth, Texas.  It principally includes live concert recordings made throughout Dylan’s career, many unique books, and Dylan topic periodicals. 

Filk Music

Our collection of filk (not folk) music--a genre of music inspired by or based on themes from science fiction--includes printed anthologies of music, commercial recordings, and several unique cassette recordings.  Styles represented include blues, hymns, ballads, country, and kiddie.  These songs can be original or parody, and the earliest examples date back to the 1940s.  To find filk materials, do a subject search in the catalog for "Science fiction -- songs and music" and visit our Filk research guide.  

Historic Sound Equipment

More than just a home for compact discs and vinyl records, the Sound Archives also preserve a variety of sound recording and playback machines. Some are artifacts from previous eras, while others are still used to play obsolete formats. We have a digital gallery of several pieces from this collection that serves as a showcase of the kinds of materials used for playback throughout the history of recorded sound. They range from some of the earliest commercially available cylinder players to modern compact disc players. These images also illustrate the history of recorded sound and its manifestations in daily life with examples ranging from utilitarian to decorative. Visit Online Exhibit

New Music Festival Archives

This collection contains scores and recordings submitted to and performed at the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music's annual festival of new music and arts each Fall.  Many of the works in this collection have never been published and represent the only or one of only a few copies of scores and/or recordings of these works in a library collection.  These materials circulate to the BGSU community with the permission from the Center, and copies are available to scholars from elsewhere through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).  

Additionally, papers relating to the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music are located in the Center for Archival Collections under the call number MS-778.  Ask at their service desk on the 5th floor of Jerome Library for access to the collection. Find New Music Festival Materials


The Promo-Files Collection (previously "Bio-Files"), organized by individual musician or group’s name, includes promotional materials from record labels, clippings from newspapers and magazines, photographs, and any other ephemeral non-book print resources that provide biographical information about popular, jazz, and classical performing artists and composers, as well as files on specific genres. To date, the collection contains materials related to over 17,000 musicians. Contributions to the collection come from a number of sources, with significant contributions from the following individuals:

  • Bill Anderson, Cleveland Public Library librarian
  • R. Serge Denisoff, former BGSU faculty member and author
  • David Ginsburg, Central Michigan University librarian and journalist
  • Anastasia Pantsios, Cleveland journalist 
  • Bill Randle, Cleveland radio personality and collector
  • Bob Sarka, BGSU alumnus and former ML/BSSA student assistant

To discover materials in the collection, try a keyword search in the catalog for "promofile [artist name]" (for example: "promofile Weird Al").  If you'd like to use any materials from this collection, simply click the "Schedule for Use" button adjacent to the object you want to view locally, or send us an email if you are not able to visit locally. Read more about the Promo-Files.

Record Sleeves

Over the years, the ML/BSSA has striven to collect as many representative sleeves as possible from 78s, LPs (inner sleeves), and 45s.  There is even a substantial number of record store bags from retail establishments throughout the world. This collection now contains approximately 1000 items and illustrates the history of record packaging and marketing from ca. 1900 until the present.  Title-specific sleeves are always kept with the original recording and noted in the cataloging record.

Vitak-Elsnic Polka Score Collection

The Vitak-Elsnic collection of polka sheet music represents the better part of the back catalog of the Vitak-Elsnic Corporation, a music publisher that originated in Cincinnati before moving on to Chicago at the turn of the 20th Century. A 2015 gift of the Music Publishers of America (MPA), the collection consists of thousands of polka charts, folios and sheet music originally published by the Vitak-Elsnic Company. Read more about the Vitak-Elsnic Polka Score Collection


We have an extensive collection of music zines devoted to a wide variety of artists and topics.  These titles delve into the fanatic mindset and the fan’s point-of-view on artists, as well as providing keen insights that help form a perspective on an artist’s reception history. Our collection began with a substantial gift from Tim Anstaett, publisher of The Offense and The Offense Newsletter.

All of our zines are all cataloged, and copies of individual articles are available through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Search for "Zines" as a subject heading in the online catalog and narrow your results to the Music Library to see which titles we own. See our Music Fanzines LibGuide for more detail on these publications.