The Voice Database

Welcome to VoxDB, the Voice Database.

Background: Why are we building a voice database?

Photographs are the primary medium through which most people recognize and connect with culturally significant individuals. Finding pictures of people online is easy, and the personal and pedagogical value of these representations is enormous.

It is also possible, of course, to make these same connections auditorily, by listening to a person's voice. In fact, in the daily activities of blind people, knowing what a voice sounds like is often vastly more important than knowing what a face looks like. Unfortunately, this important means of identifying others and forming connections with them plays at best a secondary role for sighted people. Distracted by the easy availability of visual images, most of us underestimate the tremendous emotional and informational power of listening to the sound of another human being's voice.

The goal of VoxDB is to re-prioritize auditory resources. Wherever an image exists of a culturally significant figure who was alive after the advent of sound recording technology, VoxDB seeks to provide a clear, universally accessible recording of that person speaking.

We are creating a searchable online database containing short samples of voices of current and historical figures such as scientists, politicians, authors, actors, religious leaders, artists, musicians, and elected officials. It will be an "auditory photo gallery", providing the acoustic equivalent of the thumbnail visual image which is so omnipresent online.

Sample categories - A look at VoxDB's future.

We are at the very beginning stage of this project, gathering voice clips to populate the database as well as standardizing and testing our procedures. The VoxDB collection, at least initially, will naturally reflect the tastes, interests and abilities of those who contribute to it. The following are some of what we have assembled so far, and a hint of what is possible.

We have a Guide For Contributors and a Training page with audio examples. These were used during a pilot project in 2009 in which BGSU students tested procedures for selecting and editing voice samples for the database.

If you would like to be notified of updates to this site, or if you have any questions or comments about the VoxDB project, please e-mail us at

Updated 11/08/2010