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Special Collections Research Center

Chicago Jazz Archive

About the Chicago Jazz Archive
The Chicago Jazz Archive was founded in 1976 to preserve materials on the birth and early growth of Chicago jazz. Over time, and benefiting from a relationship with the Jazz Institute of Chicago, the collections have grown to span more than eight decades of Chicago and general jazz history. The collections include recordings, publications, photographs, articles, posters, programs, ticket stubs, and other ephemera of musicians, clubs, record companies, and jazz organizations. In 2007-2008, the collections of the Chicago Jazz Archive were transferred to the Special Collections Research Center. Chicago Jazz Archive manuscript and archival collections were processed as part of the Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project (UNCAP), a three-year initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These changes have made it possible for the Library to provide expanded access to the Chicago Jazz Archive, utilizing the facilities, services, and staff of the Special Collections Research Center.

Collections of the Chicago Jazz Archive are made available to researchers in Special Collections in accordance with the Library's Policies Governing the Use of Archival and Manuscript Collections and Guidelines for Using the Special Collections Reading Room. Access to Special Collections for visiting researchers is available through the Privileges Office at the entrance to Regenstein Library. Questions about Special Collections access policies and services can be directed to the Special Collections Research Center.

Further information on research using the Library's extensive music holdings in jazz and the history of Chicago jazz is available from the Library's Chicago Jazz research guide.


The following Chicago Jazz Archive collections are available for research in the Special Collections Research Center. Processed collections are indicated with a link to the online finding aid. Finding aids for these and other related archival and manuscript holdings in Special Collections are accessible through the Archives and Manuscripts Finding Aids database.

  • Abraham, Alton. Collection of Sun Ra Papers Finding Aid
    Alton Abraham was the Communications Manager for Sun Ra and the Sun Ra Arkestra for nearly fifty years. He also managed the record labels El Saturn Research, Saturn "II" Research, Saturn Records Research, and other subsidiary businesses such as Atra Productions, Ihnfinity Research, Enterplanetary Koncepts, and Thmei Research. Reflecting Abraham's role as Sun Ra's manager, the collection contains brochures, catalogs, and financial and legal documents from El Saturn and the label's other artists as well as correspondence related to Saturn Research and Sun Ra. The collection also contains a number of photographs of Sun Ra and the Arkestra, scrapbooks on Sun Ra/Saturn Records, and record album covers. From Abraham's personal life, there is material about mysticism and the occult, which represents both a personal interest of Abraham's as well as an exploration of Sun Ra's beliefs. There is also information on Abraham's work as an X-ray technician.
  • Anderson, Charles B. Fake Books. Collection Finding Aid
    The Charles Anderson Collection contains sets of master fake books and verse-chorus fake books, which are used as informal cues by performing musicians and as tools for learning
  • Braxton, Anthony. Collection  Finding Aid
    Anthony Braxton is a music professor at Wesleyan University, composer, and jazz musician. He plays all saxophones, clarinets, flute, piano, electronics, and percussion. He contributes to the trans-African and trans-European (a.k.a. "jazz" and "American Experimental") musical traditions. Braxton is the founding Artistic Director of Tri-Centric Foundation. In 1994, he won a "genius" grant, the MacArthur Fellowship. The Anthony Braxton Collection contains handwritten music.
  • Campbell, Wilbur and Valarie. Collection Finding Aid
    Wilbur Campbell was a well-known Chicago drummer who played with Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonius Monk during the 1940s and 1950s. He was a member of "Captain Walter Dyett's Dynasty." He also served on the Jazz Institute of Chicago's programming committee for the annual Chicago Jazz Festival. The Wilbur Campbell Collection contains correspondence, articles, books, photographs, and ephemera.
  • Choice, Harriet. Collection Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    The Harriet Choice Collection consists of photographs, negatives, and slides of the Newport Jazz Festival and other jazz events, circa 1970.
  • Clark, E. Payson, Jr. Collection Finding Aid
    Edward Payson Clark, Jr., was an attorney and devoted much of his life to collecting jazz material. Clark recorded live performances, attended jazz festivals, and was especially interested in the British jazz revival, often traveling to England to attend events. The E. Payson Clark, Jr. Collection includes jazz periodicals, festival programs, ephemera, correspondence, record catalogues, concert and performer advertisements, and books.
  • Courtney, R. Howard. Collection
    The R. Howard Courtney Collection contains photographs of jazz performers, many of which are autographed. Also included are promotional ephemera such as ticket stubs, programs, fliers, postcards, stickers, and business cards.
  • Crilly, Edgar. Papers  Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    Edgar Crilly was a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The Edgar Crilly Papers consist of photographs, publications, newspaper articles, correspondence, and ephemera.
  • Deems, Barrett. Papers  Finding Aid
    Barrett Deems was a drummer and led several Chicago-area bands. He worked with Joe Venuti, Jimmy Dorsey, Red Norvo, Muggsy Spanier, Jack Teagarden, and Art Hodes. He was also well-known for working with Louis Armstrong.
  • DeMicheal, Don. Papers  Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    Don DeMicheal was a vibraphone player and jazz journalist. He was a founder and board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago and an early contributor to the Chicago Jazz Archive. He was also the editor of Downbeat for six years. The Don DeMicheal Papers contain writings by DeMicheal, as well as jazz related periodicals.
  • Figi, Jamil B. Papers Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    Jamil (J.B.) Figi was a poet and jazz journalist. Figi had a column in Coda, and also wrote for Change, Downbeat, and Chicago Reader. He wrote liner notes for Chicago-based Delmark Records. Figi was a founding member of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. The Jamil Figi Papers contain ephemera and administrative materials for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
  • Gillis, Frank. Collection Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    Frank Gillis was a pianist and archivist. Gillis served as the Director of the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University. As a pianist, Gillis played with Bobby Hackett, Red Nichols, Jack Teagarden, Doc Cenardo, and Doc Evans. The Frank Gillis Collection contains stock arrangements.
  • Granato, Jimmy. Collection Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    James "Jimmy" Granato was a composer and clarinetist. He played with musicians including Paul Ash, Erno Rupee, Fred Damon, and Austin Wylie. He worked for the Paramount movie studio, where he played for stars including Ethel Merman, Tallulah Bankhead, and Claudette Colbert, and was perhaps best known for his work with Jimmy Durante. In Chicago, he played with Art Hodes and also formed his own Dixieland band. The Jimmy Granato Collection contains photographs, newspaper articles, sheet music, and fake books.
  • Grzeca, Dan. Collection Finding Aid
    Dan Grzeca is an artist, painter, and printmaker in Chicago. Grzeca (pronounced "Jet-sah") creates poster advertisements for the Chicago improvised music scene and has made posters for bands such as the Melvins, Vandermark 5, Peter Brotzmann, and the Black Keys.
  • Hilliard, Thomas. Collection Finding Aid
    Thomas Hilliard was a saxophone player who was involved with numerous bands, television stations, and festivals, and also taught saxophone, clarinet, and flute. The Tom Hilliard Collection contains publications and sheet music.
  • Howell, Standley. Collection Finding Aid
    The Stan Howell Collection contains a copy of the book Glen Miller's Method of Orchestral Arranging (1943) and sheet music.
  • Hughes, George Warner. Collection Finding Aid
    George Warner Hughes, Jr. was a jazz drummer in Chicago and a member of Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. The George Warner Hughes, Jr. Collection contains an interview with and photographs of Hughes.
  • Jackson, Franz, Papers Finding Aid
    Franz Jackson was a composer and played saxophone and clarinet. He worked with Albert Ammons, Walter Barnes, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Wilbur De Paris, Carroll Dickerson, Roy Eldridge, Fletcher Henderson, Earl Hines, James P. Johnson, Frankie Newton, Jimmie Noone, Cassino Simpson, Fats Waller, and Cootie Williams. He composed big band arrangements for Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, and Jack Teagarden. The Franz Jackson Papers include photographs, correspondence, and publications. There are also his files on clubs, recordings, concerts, and festivals.
  • Jacobs, Phoebe. Papers  Finding Aid
    The Phoebe Jacobs Papers contain correspondence, announcements, articles, and other material from her role as Vice President of The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc.
  • James, Stafford. Collection Finding Aid
    Stafford James is a composer and plays double bass. He has worked with Monty Alexander and Sun Ra. He has played and recorded for a number of musicians, including Melba Moore, Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, Betty Carter, Art Blakely, Andrew Hill, Chico Hamilton, Dave Burrell, Dexter Gordon, and Woody Shaw. The Stafford James Collection contains compact discs and publicity portfolios.
  • Jazz Institute of Chicago. Records Finding Aid
    Founded in 1969 by a group of jazz musicians, fans, writers, and club owners, the Jazz Institute of Chicago works to preserve the history of Chicago jazz as well as bring jazz and other types of music to new audiences. The Jazz Institute of Chicago Administrative Records contain administrative and financial records of the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Jazz Archive, including newsletters, press material from the Chicago Jazz Festivals, videos, concert programs, and record catalogs.
  • Jazz Institute of Chicago. Artwork and Posters. Collection Finding Aid
    The Jazz Institute of Chicago Art and Poster Collection contains posters of Chicago jazz festivals, concerts, and events, from 1984-2006.
  • Jazz Institute of Chicago. Oral Histories Collection  Finding Aid
    The Oral Histories Collection contains audio and some transcripts of interviews with Anthony Braxton, Wilbur Campbell, Wild Bill Davison, George Dixon, Natty Dominique, Rafael Donald Garrett, Duke Groner, Art Hodes, Franz Jackson, Joe Johnson, Little Brother Montgomery, Ikey Robinson, Tut Soper, John Steiner, Jimmy Walker, Mama Yancey, and John Young.
  • Jazz Piano Song Sheet Collection  Finding Aid
    The Jazz Piano Song Sheet Collection consists of sheet music spanning the years 1885-1967, with the bulk from the 1910s through the 1940s.
  • Jazz Serial Publications Collection Finding Aid
    The Jazz Serial Publications Collection contains jazz magazines and periodicals collected by the Chicago Jazz Archive and members of JIC.
  • Jazz Sheet Music Collection  Finding Aid
    The Jazz Sheet Music Collection contains jazz sheet music spanning 1920s-1960s purchased and collected for the Chicago Jazz Archive.
  • Jazz Subject Files Collection  Finding Aid
    The Jazz Subject Files Collection includes articles, photographs, announcements, newsletters, posters, ticket stubs, and other ephemera about jazz musicians, venues, and publications.
  • Jazz Textile Collection
    The Jazz Textile Collection contains t-shirts from Chicago jazz events.
  • Koester, Bob. Collection  Finding Aid
    Bob Koester is a record collector and owner of Delmark Records. The Bob Koester Collection contains issues of Jazz Report from the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Lang, Harvey. Collection Finding Aid
    Harvey Lang started playing drums around age 3 and continued for over 50 years. He played with Wes Montgomery, Lionel Hampton, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Teagarden, Wayne Newton, Louis Prima, Clark Terry, Red Norvo, and Marian McPartland. He made an appearance as a drum teacher on the "Here's Lucy" show with Lucille Ball. The Harvey Lang Collection contains primarily photographs and scrapbooks, as well as a few publications and discographies.
  • Lewis, Leon. Collection  Finding Aid
    Leon Lewis was an advertising executive and jazz historian, and he played the banjo. Lewis started playing banjo as a teenager and played in small bands on the south side of Chicago, one of which included a young Gene Krupa. He became a pioneer in the advertising industry, having started in the field during the "Golden Age of Advertising" of the 1930s. Some of his advertising accounts, such as Selmer Musical Instruments of France, kept him involved in the jazz community, where he worked with Benny Goodman and Andres Segovia. During the 1930s-1950s, he wrote and published promotional jazz materials, advertisements, and reviews. He created "The Jazz Map of Chicago's South Side: 1915-1930," which was eventually expanded into a Chicago Jazz Archive web site, Chicago's South Side Jazz Clubs, ca. 1915-40's. The Leon Lewis Collection contains jazz publications and discographies.
  • Manning, Richard, Band. Collection Finding Aid
    Richard Manning was a composer and arranger. The Richard Manning Band Collection contains sheet music, stock arrangements, and handwritten music.
  • Martin, Terry. Papers  Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    Terry Martin is a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The Terry Martin Papers contain articles and ephemera.
  • McPartland, Jimmy and Marian. Papers  Finding Aid
    Jimmy McPartland was a coronetist and a member of the Austin High Gang of the 1920s and often receives credit as an originator of "Chicago jazz." In 1924, The Wolverines chose McPartland to replace Bix Beiderbecke. A few years later, he joined the Ben Pollack Orchestra and played with Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. He married Marian Turner, a trained classical pianist, founder of the Halcyon record label, and composer of songs recorded by vocalists including Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee. She hosts the long-running jazz program, "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz," aired on National Public Radio. The Jimmy and Marian McPartland Papers document primarily Jimmy's career in jazz and contains photographs, reviews, concert programs, posters, correspondence, and material from the television program "The Magic Horn."
  • Montgomery, Mike. Collection  Finding Aid
    The Mike Montgomery Collection contains a color photocopy of "Pekin Rag" by Joe Jordan and photocopies of "Toddle News" from the 1920s.
  • Peck, Robert. Collection Finding Aid
    (Jazz Institute of Chicago)
    Robert Peck was a jazz record collector. The Robert Peck Collection contains articles, publications, scrapbooks, playbills, and ephemera.
  • Richards, Bob, Productions. Collection Finding Aid
    The Bob Richards Productions Collection contains a photograph of Roy Eldridge, taken by Richards.
  • Rompon, Peter. Collection Finding Aid
    The Peter Rompon Collection consists primarily of periodicals, discographies and record lists. It also contains manuscripts of jazz arrangements and fake books.
  • Spink, George. Collection  Finding Aid
    George Spink hosted a jazz and big band show on WHPK starting in 1976 and later became involved in the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The George Spink Collection contains transcripts and audio of an interview with Bud Freeman about Chicago jazz during the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Squibb, Francis P. Collection  Finding Aid
    Francis P. Squibb, Jr. was a jazz musician and also prepared jazz records for William Russell in Chicago during the 1950s. From 1980-1985, he served as a curator at the William Ransom Hogan Archives of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University. The Francis P. Squibb Collection consists of magazines, publications, photographs, sheet music, correspondence, record catalogs and discographies, handwritten music, rag music, and songbooks.
  • Stanger, Phil. Collection Finding Aid
    Phil Stanger was a drummer and drum teacher. The Phil Stanger Collection contains sheet music, primarily for drums and xylophone.
  • Steiner, John. Collection Finding Aid
    John Steiner, a Milwaukee native, began attending Chicago jazz clubs as a teenager in the 1910s. He was a research chemist by trade, but devoted his life to collecting, promoting, and producing jazz, and often brought his own equipment to record live performances. He owned Paramount Records, which had produced nearly one quarter of the original "race records." The John Steiner collection spans nearly eight decades and contains articles, photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other material about jazz musicians, groups, clubs, and recording companies and technology. He collected ticket stubs, programs, announcements, fliers, posters, and other ephemera of musicians and clubs. There are also magazines, newsletters, pamphlets, books, discographies, and other publications about jazz, swing, and blues.
  • Stiernberg, Ed. Collection Finding Aid
    Ed Stiernberg was a college classmate of Joe Segal, owner of Chicago's Jazz Showcase. The Ed Stiernberg Collection contains photographs of Joe Segal, Pee Wee Russell, Muggsy Spanier, Miff Mole, Herb Ward, and Ed Fyfe from the 1940s.
  • Strayhorn, Billy, Master Editions. Collection Finding Aid
    Billy Strayhorn was a composer and pianist. Strayhorn's compositions were recorded by artists such as Duke Ellington, Barney Bigard, Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Louie Bellson, Ben Webster, and Clark Terry. He played with Duke Ellington's band for nearly thirty years. The Billy Strayhorn Master Editions Collection contains printed music composed by Strayhorn.
  • Thoma, George. Collection Finding Aid
    George Thoma was drummer and he played in the Artie Shaw Navy Band. The George Thoma Collection consists of photographs of members of the Artie Shaw Navy Band at Pearl Harbor in 1943. Pictured members include George Thoma, Sam Donahue, Max Kaminsky, Dave Rose, and Dave Tough.
  • University of Chicago. Library. Chicago Jazz Archive. Exhibits. Records Finding Aid
    The Chicago Jazz Archive Exhibits Records contain publicity, photocopies, brochures, announcements, articles, and other material related to CJA-produced exhibits, primarily "From Dreamland to Showcase" in 1996.
  • Walton, Charles. Collection  Finding Aid
    The Charles Walton Collection contains a photograph of jazz musicians circa the 1940s.
  • Weeks, Charles Bryant Frederick. Papers  Finding Aid
    Charles Weeks was a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The Charles Bryant Frederick Weeks Papers consist of newspaper articles, catalogs, sheet music, photographs and slides, scrapbooks, and administrative material about the Jazz Institute of Chicago and Chicago Jazz Archive.
  • Zuccarello, Paul. Collection  Finding Aid
    Paul D. Zuccarello was a noted band leader and arranger in Chicago during the 1940s and 1950s. The Paul Zuccarello Collection consists of handwritten compositions, printed musical arrangements, and stock arrangements.




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