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American Folklife Center Collections: Illinois

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of Illinois at the Library of Congress.


Jonas Dovydenas, photographer John Georganas Family Orchestra at the home of Angelos Kontaxis, Chicago, Illinois, (image 7). April 21, 1977. Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections from Ilinois include rich and varied materials that document the diversity of the state's folk traditions. Among its unique recordings are blues, dance, and Lithuanian music from Southern Illinois. In 1977, the Center conducted the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project, a field survey of ethnic artistic expression in the Chicago area. The material created from this project, including recorded music and interviews, transcriptions, and still photographs, is available online.

Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection

The Chicago Ethnic Arts Project survey was conducted in 1977 by the American Folklife Center at the request of the Illinois Arts Council to assess and document the status of ethnic art traditions in more than twenty ethnic communities in Chicago, and was jointly sponsored by both organizations.

The collection consists of approximately 344 sound recordings, 14,141 photographs, 269 folders of manuscript materials, 2 videorecordings, publications, ephemera, administrative files, and field notes produced and collected during the 1977 Chicago Ethnic Arts Project field survey from 1976-1981; but primarily during fieldwork conducted by fourteen folklorists directed by the American Folklife Center in 1977. The final project report presented to the Illinois Arts Council summarized the current conditions and folk arts needs in a number of Chicago's ethnic communities. Materials from post-project activities such as workshops in the ethnic communities and a traveling photographic exhibit by Jonas Dovydenas are also included.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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Sones de México Ensemble is a Mexican folk musical group that specializes in Mexican son, a genre encompassing the roots of mariachi music and other regional styles, including huapango, gustos, chilenas, son jarocho, and more. The ensemble was formed in Chicago in 1994 and soon incorporated as a non-profit organization to keep the tradition of Mexican ‘son’ alive in its many regional forms.  The current members of the ensemble are Juan Díes, Lorena Íñiguez, Juan Rivera, Zacbé Pichardo, Gonzalo Córdova, and Javier Saume-Mazzei. Library of Congress, September 16, 2015.

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