Project detail

The Old Town School of Folk Music; photograph and manuscript collection, 1957-2010

Archival processing, including folder-level re-housing and creation of descriptive inventory, of collection comprising 42 cubic feet of archival photographs, manuscripts, clippings, programs, posters and other ephemera.

The Collection

The collection consists of photographs, prints, negatives, manuscripts, and printed materials documenting the activities, classes, performances, and history of the Old Town School of Folk Music (OTSFM). The materials were created by OTSFM staff and volunteers over the course of the institution's history and acquired by the Resource Center from the mid-1980s to the present.

Founded in 1957 by Win Stracke, Frank Hamilton, and Dawn Greening, the OTSFM is uniquely committed to teaching and celebrating the music and arts of diverse American and global communities.

Illinois Institute of Technology Archives Win Stracke, Opening Night at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 1957. Courtesy, OTSFM.
Illinois Institute of Technology Archives An array of materials in the OTSFM collection during arrangement.

The Work

Prior to processing the archive, Armstrong-Johnston provided the OTSFM with an appraisal of the collection in support of the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (ISHRAB) processing grant, which was awarded in 2010. Since the organization had never retained professional library staff, the materials had been stored haphazardly in the organization's Resource Center, where both staff and researchers found it difficult to locate items useful to documenting the organization's rich history.

In consultation with the Resource Center director, Armstrong-Johnston developed a chronological and subject based schema for the materials, and drafted a corresponding descriptive inventory.

The Result

Open to the public, the OTSFM Resource Center now provides access to the Photograph and Manuscript Collection in addition to its catalog of more than 20,000 audio recordings, books and periodicals. Now accessible, the collection is a valuable resource to students and scholars of music history, and an asset to administrative departments, which draws upon it for marketing and exhibition purposes.

Archival services:

Appraisal and project planning
for grant funders

Arrangement and description

Folder level re-housing

Descriptive inventory in html

Reporting to funders

"Now that Armstrong-Johnston has developed a wonderfully user-friendly finding aid for the Old Town School, it's finally possible to locate individual items in the school's intriguing collection of photos, documents, and other materials. Thanks and bravo!"

Bob Riesman

author of I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy