🎙 Where to archive recordings?

Now, I am done linguistics courses. During the summer, I am planning to send a recorder to my cousins so that they can help me to record stories, religious savi and important events in my village/pueblo. I want to transcribe all of them or teach my cousin to transcribe them. I am planning to send the Zoom H4n and Shure SM35 XLR or Shure SM10a to them. Do you know where I can archive these recordings? Thank you!

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We all know about the importance of archiving, but what is the current advice for where should one upload recordings of ongoing research of the kind @gabrielsavi is describing?

One thing we could do in this thread would be to just build up a list of documentation archives; here are some off the top of my head:

The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America

PARADISEC: Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

California Language Archive (Berkeley)

Alaska Native Language Archive

Additions welcome!


Thank you Pat! I am not familiar with other archives only AILLA; however, I imagine that it would be hard for community members to access these archives without any connections with such institutions.

Thank you for your recommendations! Saludos

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You raise a key question — archives should not just be for university-linked use, it seems to me.

I suppose one possibility that’s way outside the box would be


Where you can upload about anything. It has been around for many years and seems pretty reliable. I don’t know if it would meet your needs as far as privacy goes. It’s aliso not specifically designed for language documentation. But if you are just looking for some place to back up content online it might be an option.

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I think you raise a good point about archives, they are not very accessible to community members. Tbh they are often not even very accessible to researchers, since they all have different structures, key words etc.
If your primary goal is to make materials available to community members maybe a traditional archive isn’t the best solution. It could be easier to create a simple website and store your recordings there, possibly password-protected (so only some people have access). Or you don’t even need a website, you could just use a cloud storage. Just an idea.


Hola Gabriel,
I think it depends on what your goals are with archiving these.

  1. Are we talking about long-time preservation into the future? If so, AILLA or somewhere similar would be a good place because they guarantee the transfer of files to new formats as technology becomes obsolete, etc.
  2. Are we talking about putting them somewhere where people in the community can access them? If so, the AILLA website can help (you do have to train people to be able to find it, etc.) but ultimately, that depends on computer and internet access. If these two things are an issue in your community, I’d recommend looking into creating a “jukebox” archive. Carolyn O’Meara and her colleagues tried this in a Seri community in Mexico; it’s not without issues but it’s one way of making the materials accessible locally. I can put you to their book chapter if you want to read more about this.

Another possibility:
Endangered Languages Archive (https://www.soas.ac.uk/elar/)

ELAR is supposed to be developing a nice bifurcated system with two portals for researchers and community members accessing the same data, but it isn’t quite ready yet.

To be clear, most language archives don’t require any sort of affiliation to access (open) data that has been uploaded. You may need to create a free account to access the materials.

Regarding access and ease of use for researchers and communities, this is one point that I find consistently frustrating about language archives. If you consider the amount of financial resources and expertise available to an initiative like AILLA or ELAR compared to e.g. OSF or Zenodo, though, it makes sense that language archives would lag behind general purpose data repositories in some ways. My personal opinion is that language archives are great for long term preservation and as an end point for the development of language resources, but that other platforms are better suited for continual research development.

To echo @JROSESLA, if the goal is to make recordings accessible to the community, then I would first consider community access to technology and assess whether or not a language archive would actually be accessible to them or not. If no, you could brainstorm other ways of making the materials available in another way, such as the jukebox method @JROSESLA mentioned or distributing recordings on USB drives, micro SD cards, DVDs, etc. One of the communities I worked with in East Africa really liked the micro SD cards, because they could listen to stories and even watch low resolution videos on their (non-smart, internet-less) phones.

But even if a language archive isn’t the best way to make recordings accessible to the community, you might still consider depositing with an archive for preservation.