The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music (SACAM) acquires and preserves significant archival records and historical artifacts in multiple formats that document America's diverse music heritage. The Center's collection of historical music instruments, dating between 1810-1972, include rare cornets and trumpets, early boxwood clarinets and flutes, unique double-reed sarrusophones, bassoons and Heckelphone, unusual harps and zithers, prototype electronic Hawaiian guitars and Sal Mar Construction, and Civil War era military horns. The Center's music instruments complement its significant archival collections that document the lives and careers of such musicians and band leaders as John Philip Sousa, Herbert L. Clarke, Claude Gordon, as well as University of Illinois Band Directors A. Austin Harding, and Mark Hindsley. The instruments also document early technological developments associated with both European and American music instrument manufacturing by such important manufacturers as Frank Holton, F. Besson, C.G. Conn, Isaac Fiske, John F. Stratton, Graves & Co., A. G. Wright, and Christian R. Stark. The provenance of each instrument is identified in each set of images.
Each instrument from the archive's collections is being photographed from multiple viewpoints. In addition to high resolution still images of the fronts, backs, sides, tops, and bottoms of each instrument, fully accessible 3-dimensional digital models are being created for each of the instruments. These 3D images are highly interactive, allowing online users to move, rotate, turn, pan across, and zoom in and out of each model to more fully examine the intricate details of instrument. The Center's ultimate long-term goal is to create digital sound files for each playable instrument and incorporate them into its music instrument digital library which will provide users with broadest multi-media educational experience using today's online technologies.