The story of 78 records is an interesting one, there are record stores today that deal exclusively in them, and people who still are tracking them down with passion like Joseph E. Bussard, Jr. the focus of Desperate Man Blues. Which I recommend watching if you get the chance.
From the Dust to Digital Website:
Desperate Man Blues tells the story of self-proclaimed king of record collectors Joseph E. Bussard, Jr. of Frederick Maryland. Joe has amassed probably the greatest collection of 78 rpm recordings of country, blues, jazz, cajun and gospel music in the world. He has spent most of of his waking hours in pursuit of old 78s. To call it a hobby would be an insult: It’s his life.Read up on the history at the Wikipedia article.
Wired has a great article on "One Man's Quest to Digitize and Publicize Rare Records" it is about Cliff Bolling huge endivor to digitize 78 records from his collection. His website got hit pretty bad when it went public, and it does not appear to really have recovered. The good news is somebody made a torrent of all of his recordings over at mininova its over 10 gigabytes.
Over at the Internet archive you can get access to over 6000 recordings as of writing this article, and many of the links provided feature more than one recording so there is more likely around 10,000 audio clips.
Ted Staunton’s has a huge collection of 78 rpm record labels at his website. Many of them include information concerning the history of the label and significance of the release.
Example from the Ted's Site:
Aco (England) / 1925
Some fun recordings I have found:
Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers-Shootin' Creek (1928) LinkReorded on July 23, 1928. This tune is clearly related, if not the same tune, to the old-timey and bluegrass standard "Cripple Creek." Alan Jabbour has speculated that the "Cripple Creek" title may be related to certain labor disputes in the Cripple Creek area of Colorado during 1903 and 1904. On the other hand, a Cripple Creek flows through Grayson and Carroll Counties in Southwest Virginia. As for the title "Shootin' Creek," there exists a Shooting Creek region in Franklin County also in Southwest Virginia. This area was famous as a center for distilling homemade whiskey and it appears that Poole was a frequent visitor.
Eddie Morton - Oceania Roll (1911)
I learned about this song while I was in Iowa in 2008 at the 108th Hobo Convention in Britt Iowa. West Hill Jack and Cherokee (who also got married at the event) performed it, and it was great. Here's is a youtube version.
For some more hand picked choices from the 78 rpm age I recommend Dust to Digital again with their release of Victrola Favorites: Artifacts from Bygone Days.
From the Website:
Deluxe 144-page clothbound, full-color book of illustrations with two CDs featuring Burmese guitars, Chinese Opera, Persian folk songs, Fado, Hillbilly, Jazz, Blues and much, much more.
Recordings made between 1920s-50s compiled by Rob Millis and Jeffery Taylor of the band Climax Golden Twins. The Climax Golden Twins have designed gallery and museum installations, composed soundtracks (most notably USA Film's Session Nine), worked on documentary films (Phi Ta Khon: Ghosts of Isan released on Sublime Frequencies) and contributed soundscapes to NPR radio programs in addition to releasing numerous recordings on CD and LP.