Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)
home » awards » awards for excellence information

Awards for Excellence Information (ARSC)

The ARSC Awards for Excellence are intended to recognize and publicize the very finest research into the history of recorded sound published each year, and to encourage others to emulate those same high standards. Eligible works include any newly printed work, and may include books, monographs, articles, liner notes, conference proceedings, or any other form made available to the public, including electronically published materials first posted during the awards year.

A maximum of two awards are presented annually in each subject category: one for best history and one for best discography, the only exception being the instance of a tie.

Finalists are announced each year from among works published during the previous calendar year (i.e., a book published in 2011 would be eligible for the 2012 awards). Winners will be announced at an awards banquet during the annual meeting of ARSC in May of the following year.

The winners are chosen by a committee consisting of the president of ARSC, the immediate past-president, the review editor of the ARSC Journal, and five elected judges: one each on classical, popular, and pop/rock, and two judges-at-large. The judges are elected by the full ARSC membership and serve two year terms. Neither the judges nor the candidates for awards are required to be members of ARSC.

Categories include, but are not limited to, historical research in:

  • Recorded classical music
  • Recorded jazz
  • Recorded blues, gospel, R&B, and hip-hop
  • Recoded rock and popular music
  • Recorded country, folk, or ethnic music
  • Record labels, manufacturers, or phonographs
  • General research on the history of recorded sound or preservation or reproduction of recordings.


Nominations for the Awards for Excellence may be proposed by contacting the chair or a co-chair of the Awards Committee via regular mail or e-mail. Publishers, authors, and others are strongly encouraged to nominate materials. Though a sincere effort is made by the committee chairs to identify deserving works each year, we may inadvertently overlook materials not brought to our attention.

Upon nomination, the publisher will be asked to send one copy to the judge of the relevant category. If selected as a finalist, the publisher will be requested to send a copy to each of the five elected judges. The committee must receive the copies in a timely manner (within six weeks of contact with the publisher), or the nomination will be forfeited.

The deadline for Awards for Excellence submissions is December 31 of year the work was published.

Eligibility criteria:

The work must contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge and/or appreciation of the role of recorded sound in the establishment and preservation of our cultural heritage.

The work must be substantially original and not previously published. Exceptions may be made for revised or new editions of significant works that have not been previously considered for awards, or revisions that have so altered the original publication that they stand as new, original contributions to research. Due to the volume of materials to be considered each year, in the case of revised editions, the publisher or author(s) need to nominate the book, and highlight the content that is new and original research. Likewise, articles and electronically published works must be nominated by their authors.

Nominated works must deal with historical subjects, defined as pertaining predominantly to periods at least ten years prior to the year of publication.

The works must embody the highest standards of research: accuracy, thoroughness, ingenuity and originality in research and analysis, and a logical and accessible presentation.

For more information, please contact one of the Awards committee co-chairs: Roberta Freund Schwartz and Dave Lewis.


back to top