Spoken Word Archive

The Spoken Word Archive was created to control, maintain and disseminate sound documents that record the spoken word. The collection is divided into two basic sections, according to the source of the documents they contain: One group contains holdings entering through commercial publishing (purchase, donation and copyright library), and the other contains recordings cultural events held at the Biblioteca Nacional de España..

History of the collection

The history of the collection dates back to 1950 when the Library received, from the former Spoken Word Archive of the Centro de Estudios Históricos run by Menéndez Pidal,  twenty-four slate disks with recordings made between 1931 and 1933, containing the voices of many literary and political figures from the period, including General Primo de Rivera of Azorín, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Pío Baroja y Santiago Ramón y Cajalr . In 1958, the Archive grew with a donation of three new records by  Odeon - His Master's Voice, one with the voice of King Alfonso XIII and two with the voice of General Primo de Rivera.

In the 1960's, the Ministry of Education and Science retrieved the idea of creating a Spoken Word Archive of Spanish culture, compiling recordings and publishing a new collection of thirty  cassette tapes, with original voices of outstanding figures from the worlds of the arts, sciences and  politics. Evidence of the interest sparked by projects of this nature was the fact that the archive created by Menéndez Pidal was twice republished: In 1990, it was released on a vinyl disc, and after that the Residencia de Estudiantes released it again (1998) in the form of a book containing two compact disks with all the texts and original voices.

The Spoken Word Archive has grown steadily thanks to the material received via the Copyright Library, but it reached its current volume and significance with other contributions in the form of recordings made of all the cultural events held in the Library's Assembly Room (poetry recitals, book presentations, lecture series, round tables, etc.). These activities began to be recorded on a regular basis in the 1970's, following the Library's cultural policy, headed by Hipólito Escolar and Manuel Carrión, an initiative that has persisted through to this day.

Among the most important recent acquisitions are 53 wax cylinders for phonographs made between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which include recordings of jokes and a distance-learning course of Spanish as a foreign language, published in the United States in 1905. Since 2006, important vinyl record collections  have been purchased containing the voices of Spanish-American writers: Gabriel García Márquez, Ernesto Sábato, Nicolás Guillén, Pablo Neruda, etc.


Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria
Voice recordings

Voices of personalities from culture, science, the arts or politics

Escena de Miquiño mio
Cultural events

Actos culturales de la BNE desde 1973

Memoria sonora
Memoria sonora

The oficial podcast of the BNE

Where available