Lately I've been trying to track down melodies of old songs from the 1930s for which I have texts. I wrote Michael Aylward, discographer extraordinaire, and told him of my recent misery when I discovered that the music of lifelong Yiddish theater performers Max and Reyzl Boyk - "a stack of music a mile high" - was thrown away the minute Reyzl died.
He said that the most avid collectors of old European 78s (the subject of his discographic efforts) amass hordes of precious, one-of-a-kind records, but when they die, their families throw their collections in the garbage and that's the end.
So here is my plea, collector of unique Jewish recordings on 78s or cassettes or whatever: please have your collection digitized while you are alive. There are wonderful people saving this music for all of us: at the Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive at the University of Pennsylvania, at the Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive, and at Florida Atlantic University Judaica Sound Archives. These institutions will take care that your music lives on forever.