The Frontera Collection
In 2019 the Arhoolie Foundation has received its fifth grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue digitizing the Arhoolie Foundation’s Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings. Since the Foundation started the project in 2001, we have digitized over 140,000 songs.
The Arhoolie Foundation’s Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings is the largest repository of these commercially produced vernacular recordings in existence. The nearly 170,000 recordings in the collection were made primarily in the United States and Mexico, and were issued on 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and 33⅓ rpm (long-playing, or LP) phonograph records, cassette and some un-issued reel to reel master tapes.
The Frontera Collection Digitizing Project is a collaboration between The Arhoolie Foundation, the University of California at Los Angeles’ Chicano Studies Research Center, and the UCLA Library. The Arhoolie Foundation has digitized over 140,000 recordings . We have scanned the labels, album graphics, and notes, and added searchable keywords related to the subject matter of the recordings. The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and UCLA Library have put this material online on their Frontera website. You can search and listen to the recordings, read blogs about the music, leave comments, and add knowledge.
- Visit the UCLA Frontera Website. Listen to the recordings, view the record labels and album covers, read the blog, read the biographies, add to the knowledge, leave your comments – click here
- You can also view a complete searchable catalog of the Frontera Collection on the Arhoolie Foundation website.
- Visit the Frontera Collection YouTube channel and listen to thousands of 78s
- Donate to the Frontera Collection. We are always looking for more recordings, particularly on 78s and 45s. We are also seeking photos, posters and biographical information regarding the musicians in this archive. If you can add to our collection, or to our knowledge about these recordings, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Digitization Project
Digitization of the Strachwitz Frontera Collection began on October 15, 2001, at the Arhoolie Foundation’s facilities in El Cerrito, California. The production team, led by Arhoolie Foundation board members Tom Diamant and Chris Strachwitz and sound engineer Antonio Cuellar, first cataloged the entire collection. Then began the highly technical process of transferring the recordings to digital format, using specialized equipment. The digitization of the first section of the collection was sponsored by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center through a grant from its Los Tigres del Norte Fund.
Full access to these primary source materials is currently available only to UCLA students, faculty, and staff; others may view the labels and listen to a portion of each recording. (however you can listen to over 33,000 recordings from the 78s on our YouTube channel) The digital archive enables wide-ranging research in Mexican and Mexican American culture and ensures that the lyrics, music, and tales in the Strachwitz Frontera Collection will be available to scholars and the public for generations to come.