University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Bob Koester Collection 1958-1982, 2001

© 2008 University of Chicago Library


The Bob Koester Collection was processed and preserved as part of the "Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project," funded with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Descriptive Summary


Koester, Bob. Collection


1958-1982, 2001


.5 linear feet


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Bob Koester, record collector, owner of Delmark Records and Jazz Record Mart in Chicago. The Bob Koester Collection includes issues of Jazz Report and Music Memories and Jazz Report.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Koester, Bob. Collection, [Box#, Folder#], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Bob Koester was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1932 and fell in love with jazz and blues as a teenager. While a student at St. Louis University, Koester began trading records in St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1952, Koester founded his first record store, K & F sales, with Ron Fister whom he met through the local St. Louis jazz scene. Koester and Fister split the business in 1953, and Koester opened Delmar Records. During the same year, Koester recorded the Windy City Six, a vintage jazz band based in St. Louis. In 1958, Koester moved his record store to Chicago, changing the name to Delmark.

During the 1960s, Koester focused on the Chicago jazz and blues scene, recording seminal Chicago blues artists and the avant-garde jazz of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. He also reissued Sun Ra’s first two albums. In 2003, Delmark Records, one of the oldest independent record labels in the United States, celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Koester is also the owner of Jazz Record Mart, the world’s largest blues and jazz record store. Jazz Record Mart became an influential hub for jazz recording and record collectors.

Koester has won attention from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and induction into the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame. In 2003, Koester made an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s seven-part PBS documentary, “The Blues.”

Scope Note

The Bob Koester Collection includes issues of Jazz Report and Music Memories and Jazz Report.

Related Resources

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Subject Headings


Box 1    Folder 1

Jazz Report, 1958-1982

Box 1    Folder 2

Jazz Report, 1958-1982

Box 1    Folder 3

Jazz Report, 1958-1982

Box 1    Folder 4

Jazz Report, 1958-1982

Box 1    Folder 5

Music Memories and Jazz Report, 1964