In January 1998, Studs Terkel became the Chicago Historical Society's first Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, a position that allowed him to continue to work on his publications and lead an active public life. Also in 1998, Studs Terkel and WFMT & the Radio Network donated over 6,000 reels and approximately 5,000 hours of sound recordings of “The Studs Terkel Program” to the Chicago Historical Society. Shortly thereafter cataloging and preservation copying of the WFMT/Studs Terkel Archives began. The sound recordings offer a unique and remarkably rich history of the ideas, knowledge, opinions, and beliefs of many influential thinkers, creative personalities, and political figures living in the second half of the twentieth century. Broadcast daily on WFMT-FM in Chicago between 1952 and 1997, “The Studs Terkel Program” featured interviews and panel discussions with the celebrated as well as lesser known figures in the arts, music, literature, and in social and political life. The impressive roster of interviewees constitutes a virtual who’s who of these areas of endeavor-people who have been the subject of extensive research and will continue to be studied in years to come. The records for these sound recordings can be found through Archie, the Chicago History Museum's online catalog that will be available on the History Museum's web site,

In 2000, Studs Terkel donated research recordings and personal papers relating to his published books to the Chicago Historical Society. This part of the Studs Terkel Collection contains approximately 1,400 audio reels/cassettes and 2,000 hours of unedited interviews, transcripts, correspondence, and manuscript material. Some of these recordings have been reformatted for preservation and research use, and some of the papers have been processed.

A selection of Terkel’s recordings from his radio program and his book research are available on this web site. Listening copies are available for a portion of the collection, and these can be consulted in the History Museum's Research Center only. Excerpts of some of the most outstanding Studs Terkel interviews are available on Voices of Our Time: Five Decades of Studs Terkel Interviews, a set of six cassettes containing 7-1/2 hours of interviews, issued by the HighBridge Company in 1999. Voices is available at selected bookstores and public libraries and can be purchased on-line at HighBridge Audio - Please see Reproduction Fees Schedules for current information about the Historical Society’s use fees.

Chicago History Museum

  • Russell Lewis, Andrew W. Mellon Director for Collections and Research, Project Director
  • Diane Ryan, Digital Resources Manager, Project Manager
  • Sharon Lancaster, Project Archivist
  • Usama Alshaibi, Audio/Film Technician
  • D. Lynn McRainey, Director of History Programs
  • Heidi Moisan, Public Historian-Teachers/Students
  • Marie Haugh, History Explorers Program Coordinator
  • Beth Collins, Distance Learning Center Coordinator

The Chicago History Museum is grateful to the following funders whose support makes accessible and preserves the Studs Terkel Collection: the Chicago Community Trust, the National Science Foundation (National Gallery of the Spoken Word project), and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the Chicago Park District's generous support of all the History Museum's activities.

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