Chicago Collection


Extent: 2,000 videotapes, video files, and films

Dates: 1949–2016

Description: Media Burn’s Chicago Collection is the cornerstone of our archive, spanning more than a half century of history and culture. The Chicago Collection contains unique cultural and historical records of this city’s people, places, and events from a distinctly non-commercial point of view, not represented or collected elsewhere. Hundreds of subjects, including ordinary people, musicians, mayors, baseball legends, radio personalities, community leaders, and neighborhood festivals are captured for posterity.The archive contains a particularly comprehensive documentation of local politics, featuring the lives and times of Alderman Vito Marzullo; Congressman Rahm Emanuel; Congressman Dan Rostenkowski; Senator Carol Moseley-Braun; Governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan; mayors Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, and Richard J. and Richard M. Daley; and many more. The footage in this collection, produced by passionate independent observers, provides a rare and valuable counterpoint to the official histories of many of Chicago’s most noteworthy 20th century characters.

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Studs Terkel Collection

Extent: 200 videotapes and films

Dates: 1949–2008

Description: The largest collection in the world of videos featuring the oral historian, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and radio DJ; about half were donated by Terkel himself. There are also many original tapes from programs featuring Terkel, produced by FITV and associates throughout a thirty-year relationship. In addition to providing an in-depth portrait of Terkel, the tapes follow Terkel’s innumerable humanities-oriented interests (music, art, theater, etc) across a half-century.



Chicago Slices Collection

Extent: 160 videotapes

Dates: 1993

Description: Documentary TV series about people and places around Chicago produced by FITV and aired on WPWR-Chicago. The collection features all 17 30-minute episodes plus all the camera originals shot for the series. A wide variety of local events and culture are captured. These include everything from footage and discussion of Chicago traditions like Italian beef, hot dogs, deep dish pizza, and Italian ice; footage of immigrant community traditions, from Serbian weddings to urban Mexican rodeos; parades, neighborhood festivals and ethnic fairs; to street performers and acrobats on the South Side; to footage of Chicago’s vibrant arts and cultural scene, such as the Poetry Slams created by Marc Smith, or legendary blues performers at the Checkerboard Lounge.



Voices of Cabrini Collection

Extent: 200 videotapes

Dates: 1980–1999

Description: An in-depth collection of documentary footage shot at the Cabrini-Green public housing projects during the 1980s and ’90s. The bulk of the collection is camera original footage produced for filmmaker Ronit Bezalel’s documentary Voices of Cabrini, shot over the course of five years. One of the most scholarly significant collections in America, it provides access to the first person experience of race and class, as well as historical documentation of public policy and politics.



Robert “Yummy” Sandifer Collection

Extent: 13 videotapes

Dates: 1994–1995

Description: In an episode for Weekend TV, Andrew Jones investigates the aftermath of the murder of 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, who had been accused of killing 14-year-old Shavon Dean in the Roseland neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Two brothers, Cragg and Derrick Hardaway, were arrested for the murder of Sandifer. Jones talks to family and friends about the tragedy of two murders of teenagers and how it reflects on our society. This collection also includes raw footage coverage of the murder trial.



This Week in Joe’s Basement Collection

Extent: 64 video files

Dates: 1989–1993

Description: All 60 episodes, as well as alternate versions, of the cult classic Chicago cable access show. This Week in Joe’s Basement aired on public access cable (CAN-TV) in Chicago from 1989 to 1993.  The series combined offbeat humor, social critique, and incisive documentary segments in a way television audiences had never seen before. It won two local cable TV awards and was featured in the Chicago Tribune, NBC’s Today, Jenny Jones, MTV’s Day in Rock, BBC’s World of Wonder, and PBS’s Image Union and The 90s. Joe’s Basement became so notorious that when Saturday Night Live’s “Wayne’s World” skit was made into a movie, the Chicago Tribune assigned Joe to interview star Mike Myers.