Harold Washington Library Center
Visual & Performing Arts
Chicago Blues Archives
Established in 1981 with a generous gift from Chicago radio station WXRT, the Archives houses audio and visual recordings, promotional materials, artifacts, and other available blues related material. Of particular interest is a collection of demo and live recordings not commercially available and the extensive collection of material from the Chicago Blues Festivalsincluding audio and video recordings of Festival performances.
The Chicago Blues Archive holds a significant collection of recordings, commercial and non-commercial, from 78s to compact discs. Included are live recordings from WXRT's Blues Breaker Specials, including artists such as Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, and Johnny Winter performing in Chicago clubs. The Archives' video collection includes tapes from Soundstage, Chicago public television station WTTW's live music program of the 1970's, including the remarkable Muddy Waters episode.
The video and/or audio tapes of 'speaking of the Blues', a series of free programs consisting of interviews and performances by local Chicago blues legends in the Harold Washington Library Center's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium are preserved in the archives.
Use of the Collection
Visitors and researchers are welcome any time the Library is open; researchers working on larger projects are advised to make an appointment. All materials from the Archives must be paged by staff; and must be used in a designated area; they do not circulate.
Security precautions are necessary to protect the Archives' holdings. Visitors sign a daily log upon admittance, and researchers complete a registration form and present identification (a CPL library card or photo id) before receiving material.