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Collection Information

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WGN Radio Station studio orchestra collection


Acquired by University Extension from Chicago radio station WGN, in part through the efforts of School of Music voice professor Bruce Foote, who had appeared as soloist on many WGN programs

When acquired

Acquired by University Extension in September 1957; transferred to Main Library (Room 19) in June 1960, where it was cataloged and administered by former Music Librarian Jay Alien; transferred to the jurisdiction of the Music Library sometime after April 1965


The donation consists of a major portion of the music library of station WGN, including approximately 164,000 parts in over 4,600 folders. Scripts, programs, correspondence, and other miscellaneous archival material accompanied the donation. The collection consisted of music scores and parts for the “Theatre of the Air” program as well as other WGN broadcast presentations. Included were orchestral works and orchestrations to accompany vocal works (many in special arrangements by Rosario Bourdon and others, with reduced instrumentation suitable for theater or salon ensembles), as well as published vocal scores and chamber music. Some vocal scores (and possibly other works) have been withdrawn from the WGN collection or transferred to other stack areas within the Music and Performing Arts Library since 1965.


The collection is arranged in accession number order (nos. 1-4590, plus opera “O” series nos. 01-0101 & 0201-0207). It is unclear whether accession numbers were established originally by Station WGN or by Jay Allen in conjunction with his cataloging project of the early 1960s. After the Music Library moved to its present location during the 1970s, the WGN collection was packaged in new (but probably not acid-free) folders, and shelved in numerical order in Special Collections. Sometime during the 1990s the collection was repacked into 163 shipping cartons and placed in storage. Each carton is labeled as to the portion of the WGN accession-number sequence it contains, with a relatively small amount of unnumbered material in cartons at the end of the entire series. The collection now resides at the Archives Research Center.

Access/Finding Aids/Bibliography

See WGN Music Library and Records Finding Aid in the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, for a partial listing of collection contents.

A shelf list consists of parts cards noting instrumentation, filed in numerical order. Jay Allen attached a letter suffix to each accession number to denote musical genre or other special feature, in order to facilitate retrieval via a classified catalog. Brief entries prepared for the latter were photocopied and filed into separate composer and title indexes. The entire WGN card catalog, including the shelflist, consists of 13 card trays, as described below.

Seven folders in the Music and Performing Arts Library’s Collections File (“WGN”) contain documents dating largely from the period of Jay Allen’s administration, including descriptions of the collection, publicity materials, memos, reports, and detailed instructions for cataloging.

WGN Card Catalog

Composers: instrumental – 1 tray
Composers: vocal – 1 tray
Titles: instrumental – 1 tray
Titles: vocal – 1 tray
Classified catalog: orchestral – 2 trays
D – dances
F – “fast”
I – instrumental ( concerti, chamber)
M – marches
O – overtures
OP – opera excerpts (orchestral)
OS,BS- orchestral suites, ballet suites
RH – rhapsodies
RT – fantasies
S – “slow”
ST – string orchestra
ST-Q – string quartet
SY – symphonic
W – waltzes
Classified catalog: vocal – 2 trays
A – arias
C – classical songs
CH – chorus only
DU – duets
E – ensemble
LC – light classical (vocal)
NS – national & state songs
OPV – opera selections (orchestral & vocal)
SC – solo & chorus
U – university, college
X – Christmas, New Year
Opera (O) series shelflist, “Theatre of the Air” – 2 trays
(01-0101; 0201-0207), followed by:
S – scores
TH – themes
BR – bridges
MA – misc. archives
PR – programs, scripts
General shelflist – 3 trays

Index terms

Allen, Jay; Bourdon, Rosario; Chicago: radio broadcasting; Ensemble scores & parts; Foote, Bruce; WGN (Chicago radio station)