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Finding Aids to Individual Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture


AFC 1981/004

Library of Congress
Washington DC
January 1995


The Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, ephemera, and accompanying documentation related to the 1977 Chicago Ethnic Arts Project field survey. At the request of the Illinois Arts Council, the American Folklife Center assessed and documented the status of ethnic art traditions in more than twenty ethnic communities in Chicago. Fourteen professional folklorists conducted the fieldwork, interviewing artists, talking with community leaders, and documenting the arts through still photographs and audiotape recordings.

The final project report presented to the Illinois Arts Council summarized the current conditions and folk arts needs in these communities. Materials from post-project activities such as workshops in the ethnic communities and a traveling photographic exhibit are included in the collection.

Access and Reproduction: Listening and viewing access to the collection is unrestricted. Duplication of the recorded materials may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Key Subjects: Communities activities; dance--performance, social, and folk; foodways; music--instrumental and vocal; religious celebrations; textile arts; and wood carving. Ethnic groups: African-American, Austrian, Chinese, Croatian, Cuban, Czech, Danish, Finnish, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Latino, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Native American, Norwegian, Polish, Puerto Rican, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, and Ukranian.

Languages and Dialects: Calabrese, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Neopolitan, Polish, Slovenian, Spanish, Ukranian

Physical Description: Location Numbers:
226 folders

Audio Recordings
99 reels 7" at 7.5 ips, mono, DT stereo AFS 20,524-20,867 (reels and cassettes); RYA 0601-0845 (cassettes);
245 audiocassettes, mono and stereo RXA 1004-1098, 1353-1356 (reels)
344 audiocassettes AFS 20,524-20,867
(Listening copies)

Graphic Materials
275 b&w negative rolls (9,900 images)
275 b&w contact sheets
187 b&w photoprints
118 matted b&w exhibition photographic prints
118 reference slides of photoprints (2 sets)
251 holders, color transparencies (approx. 3,800 images)
13 holders, reference fiches

Moving Images
2 videocassettes 3/4" sound, color AFC1981/004:V1-V2
(Original copies)


The Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection contains the audiorecordings, photographs, publications, ephemera, and accompanying manuscript materials associated with the 1977 survey of ethnic artistic expression in Chicago conducted by the American Folklife Center. The Center undertook the project on behalf of the Illinois Arts Council, following a directive from the Illinois legislature to increase programming for ethnic arts. The purpose of the survey was to assess living ethnic art traditions in a contemporary urban American setting. This was accomplished by examining factors such as history, transmission, social structures, and individual artists' lives. The final project report, which summarized the status of existing ethnic arts and provided recommendations for future support, was submitted to the Illinois Arts Council for use in program planning.

The project occurred between February and November 1977 and involved three phases: initial planning and background research, fieldwork in Chicago, and analysis and preparation of the final report. It was organized by Center director Alan Jabbour and staff members Elena Bradunas and Carl Fleischhauer. Research assistants Carol Armbruster and Peter Bartis prepared background material. Greta Swenson coordinated the fieldwork in Chicago; Jonas Dovydenas served as photographer and media specialist. Fieldworkers included fourteen professional folklorists and cultural specialists. After the collection was arranged and housed, Lucy Long prepared a detailed inventory.

The ethnic groups studied during the project were chosen according to two criteria: representation in the 1970 census and the availability of a professional cultural expert for that group. Fieldworkers spent one to three weeks interviewing community leaders and artists and documenting various arts and activities. The fieldworkers compiled information on the following ethnic groups: African-American, Austrian, Chinese, Croatian, Cuban, Czech, Danish, Finnish, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Latino, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Native American, Norwegian, Polish, Puerto Rican, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, and Ukranian. Subjects best represented in the collection include instrumental and vocal music, performance, social and folk dance, textile arts, foodways, religious celebrations, wood carving, and community activities such as social club meetings and neighborhood gatherings.

Two smaller projects resulted from the survey; materials from both are included in the collection. The first project was a series of concurrent weekend workshops held in November 1977 in seven Chicago ethnic communities: Greek, Irish, Italian, Latino, Lithuanian, South Slavic, and Ukrainian. Conducted by project fieldworkers who surveyed those groups, the workshops focused on community cultural preservation. The second project was an exhibit of photographs taken by Jonas Dovydenas during the fieldwork. "Inside Our Homes, Outside Our Windows" was mounted at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art in 1979 and at several other venues in 1980.

The collection not only documents the lifespan of the project and recommendations presented to the Illinois Arts Council, but also records and preserves the life histories and folk arts of specific urban ethnic communities in Chicago. The materials span the years 1976 to 1981, with the largest portion concerning the project in 1977. The collection is divided into four series by format: manuscripts, sound recordings, graphic material, and moving images. The inventory to the collection, photographic logs, and sound recordings concordance (materials not included in this register) provide detailed descriptions of the contents.

Series I: Manuscripts

The manuscript materials provide supporting documentation for the entire project, including the follow-up workshops and the photographic exhibit. Documents pertaining to the planning and administration of these activities are found here. Publications such as books, brochures, articles, maps, and so forth provide background on Chicago and specific ethnic groups. Documentation includes fieldnotes, daily journals, logs describing the content of the photographs and sound recordings made during the fieldwork, and related ephemera. This series also contains summaries and reports on the project, including a final copy of A Report on the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project.

Series II: Sound Recordings

This series includes the 344 audiocassettes and reel-to-reel tapes used to document the fieldwork undertaken. They provide a record of interviews, music, and social events. The series also includes selected recordings from the entire set. Logs that identify the content of the recordings are found in Series I.

Series III: Graphic Images

More than 13,000 images document the fieldwork performed in Chicago. They include black and white negative rolls, contact sheets, and miscellaneous photoprints. Color transparencies and reference fiches are also included. The series also contains photographs taken during the workshops, as well as slides documenting the installation of the photographic exhibit, the matted photoprints themselves, and reference slides of the photoprints. Logs describing the content of the field photographs are found in Series I.

Series VI: Moving Images

This series contains two videocassettes related to the photographic exhibit, "Inside Our Houses, Outside Our Windows." One describes the exhibit and the other contains remarks by the photographer, Jonas Dovydenas. Logs of these videotapes can be found in Series I.



Folders A-C
Archive of Folk Culture administrative materials. The collection register [this document], accession log, original and copy of the collection inventory.
Publicity and administration
Folders 1-9
Planning: Pre-project background materials; project proposal; travel/media budgets; grant agreement; planning correspondence; research schedule; coordinator's appointment book; miscellaneous.
Folders 10-29
Fieldworkers: Blank contracts; addresses and schedules; contracts and resumes (arranged alphabetically by fieldworker).
Folders 30-41
Actual project expenses: Ledger; bank statements; expenditures; bills; honorariums; coordinator's weekly reports and analyses.
Folders 42-46
Publicity and press releases: Press contacts; correspondence; media coverage.
Folders 47-51
Correspondence: Coordinator's administrative correspondence; between Center and fieldworkers; between fieldworkers and contacts; general/miscellaneous.
Folders 52-57
Project contacts: Lists of possible contacts; address labels; certificate recipients; blank certificates; Consulates in Chicago; Chicago congressmen.
Folder 58
Post-project materials: Notes and documents from the presentation by Alan Jabbour to the Illinois Arts Council.
Collected Publications and Ephemera
Folders 59-57 General information about Chicago--resource individuals and institutions
Loose publications General information about Chicago
Folders 68-72 General information about Chicago--ephemera.
Folders 73-108 Information on specific ethnic groups: Materials arranged alphabetically by ethnic group.
Folders 109-125 Fieldnotes: Original fieldnotes arranged alphabetically by fieldworker.
Folders 169-171 Black and white logs: Logs describing black and white images, arranged numerically by roll number and alphabetically by ethnic group; fieldworkers' notes for photo identification.
Folder 172 Color logs: Logs describing color images arranged numerically by holder and alphabetically by ethnic group.
Folders 173-192 Sound recordings--logs: Fieldworkers' sound recording logs (arranged alphabetically); reference and evaluative logs; selected transcribed quotes; annotations for selected sound recordings.
Folders 193-195 Sound recordings--other: Copy of concordance; tape catalog; miscellaneous
Reports and Products
Folders 196-210 Fieldworkers' reports: Reports submitted by fieldworkers (arranged alphabetically).
Folders 211-288 Edited manuscripts: Sections of edited report manuscript arranged in final report order.
Folder 229 Final report: A Report on the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project. Complete, bound report prepared by the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, January 1978.
Folders 230-234 Other: Project progress report; assessment of sound recordings; artists suitable for festival appearances; report requests; photographic presentation sets.
Folders 235-246 Administrative materials: Proposals; grant agreement; planning; publicity; invitations; mailing lists; correspondence; schedule; handouts; instructors' reports.
Folders 247-254 Participants, miscellaneous notes: Workshop materials (arranged alphabetically by ethnic group).
Photographic Exhibit
Folders 255-269 Photographic exhibit: Proposals; budgets; arrangement; exhibit design; catalog; publicity; reception; travel; correspondence; videocasette logs.


Location Contents
AFS 20,524-
AFS 20,867
99 7" reels and 245 audiocassettes of original field recordings. Arranged by ethnic group/fieldworker. AFS 20,524-20,867; RYA 0601-0845; RXA 1004-1098, 1353-1356. Listening copies are available in the Folklife Reading Room.


Location Contents
Albums 1-3 275 rolls of black and white negatives arranged numerically by roll number.
Folders 126-145 275 black and white contact sheets arranged alphabetically by ethnic group.
Folders 146-168 275 black and white contact sheets (identical to those in folders 126-145) arranged numerically by roll number.
Boxes 15-17 187 miscellaneous 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 black and white photoprints.
Map drawers 118 matted photoprints used in the exhibit.
Envelopes containing Slide Trays 1-248G Color transparencies (approximately 3,800 images) arranged alphabetically by (holders) ethnic group. Also includes workshops, exhibit installation, and exhibit reference transparencies.
Envelopes condaining Slide Trays 249-261 Reference copies of color transparencies.


Box 18 One 3/4" sound, color unedited videotape of remarks by Jonas Dovydenas on the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project. December 1980. AFC 1981/004:V1.

Box 18 One 3/4" sound, color videotape program used at the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs installation of the photo exhibit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. January 1981. AFC 1981/004:V2.


American Folklife Center, "Chicago Project Highlights." Folklife Center News I, no. 2 (April 1978): 3, 8.

______________, "Chicago's Ethnic Communities and Their Artistic Expression." Folklife Center News I, no. 1 (January 1978): 6-7.

Boyer, Bruce Hatton. "Ethnic Folk Arts in Contemporary Chicago." Chicago History: The Magazine of the Chicago Historical Society X, no. 4 (Winter 1981-1982): 248-255.

"Chicago Ethnic Project to Study Traditions." Library of Congress Information Bulletin, 36 no. 6. April 22, 1977: 1-2.

Melville, Annette, "Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection." In Special Collections in the Library of Congress, 61. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1980.


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