Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Louis (Studs) Terkel  

Pen Name: Studs Terkel


Audience: Adult;

Born: May 16, 1912 in New York City, New York

Died: October 31, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Studs Terkel on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

At the age of eight, Studs moved with his parents to Chicago. He was raised and educated in Chicago and continued to live there the rest of his life.

Biographical and Professional Information

Studs is an American author and historian. He has also been a Chicago radio and television broadcaster. He is known for his works in oral history. Terkel transcribes tape recorded interviews with ordinary people and edits them into powerful accounts of aspects of modern American life. He was always working on something new, all the way up until his death.

Published Works

  • Giants of Jazz, 1957
  • Amazing Grace, 1959
  • Division Street: America, 1966
  • Hard Times, 1970
  • Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, 1974
  • Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times, Pantheon, 1977
  • American Dreams: Lost and Found, Pantheon, 1980, (Reprinted in 1999)
  • The Good War: An Oral History of World War II, Pantheon, 1984 (Reprinted in 2004)
  • Chicago, 1986
  • The Great Divide: Second Thoughts On The American Dream, Pantheon, 1988
  • Race, How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel about the American Obsession, New Press, 1992, (Reprinted in 2005)
  • Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who`ve Lived It, St. Martin`s Press, 1995 (Reprinted in 2007)
  • My American Century, Norton 1997, 1998
  • The Spectator, Talk about Movies and Plays with the People Who Make Them, New Press , 1999 (Reprinted in 2002)
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, New Press, 2001, (Reprinted in 2006)
  • Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times, 2003
  • And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey, 2005
  • Touch and Go, 2007

Selected Titles At Your Library

Talking to myself :
ISBN: 0394411021. OCLC Number:

Pantheon Books,. New York :. ©1977.

"This memoir cuts across worlds, years and the vast spectrum of people that Terkel has known, from workers to famous stars, from Nobel Prize winners to ordinary folk ... Terkel uses some of the methods that have made his radio programs so famous. He cuts from a visit to Chief Luthuli in South Africa to a memoir of the McCarthy period, from growing up among the petty gangsters of Chicago in the thirties to confronting the bigger gangsters of our political life in the sixties, from acting in a radio soap opera to discussing film with Fellini ..."

American dreams, lost and found /
ISBN: 1565845455. OCLC Number:

Pantheon Books,. New York :. ©1980.

Presents 100 interviews with a cross section of American people, both famous and non-famous, who discuss their personal lives and ambitions.

The good war :
ISBN: 1565849450. OCLC Number:

New Press,. New York :. 2004.

The Great Divide :
ISBN: 0394570537. OCLC Number:

Pantheon Books,. New York :. ©1988.

Studs Terkel interviews three college teachers, four farmers, a high school teacher, neighborhood organizer, stock broker, advertising executive, businesswomen, real estate broker, dentist, doctor, blue collar worker, professional strikebreaker, columnist, unemployed steelworker, lawyer, flight attendant, bartender, CPA, woman engineer, socialite, Congressman, nuclear physicist, author, waitress, KKK member, storyteller, gay activist, sanctuary worker, Christian fundamentalist, Tony Bouza, Erica Bouza, Maggie Kuhn, Victor Reuther, and peace activists Jean and Joe Gump.

Race :
ISBN: 1565849892. OCLC Number:

. .

First published in 1992 at the height of the furor over the Rodney King incident, Studs Terkel's Race was an immediate bestseller. In a rare and revealing look at how people in America truly feel about race, Terkel brings out the full complexity of the thoughts and emotions of both blacks and whites, uncovering a fascinating narrative of changing opinions. Preachers and street punks, college students and Klansmen, interracial couples, the nephew of the founder of apartheid, and Emmett Till's mother are among those whose voices appear in Race. In all, nearly one hundred Americans talk openly about attitudes that few are willing to admit in public: Feelings about affirmative action, gentrification, secret prejudices, and dashed hopes.

Coming of age :
ISBN: 1595581723. OCLC Number:

New Press :. New York :. 2007, ©1995.

My American century /
ISBN: 1565844696. OCLC Number:

New Press :. New York :. ©1997.

This anthology collects the most memorable interviews from eight of Terkel's earlier works: American Dreams, Hard Times, "The Good War," Division Street: America, Working, The Great Divide, Race, and Coming of Age. It also includes the introductions from each of those books, plus a foreword by Robert Coles which examines Terkel's writing.

Will the circle be unbroken? :
ISBN: 0345451201. OCLC Number:

Ballantine Books,. New York :. 2002.

"Presents interviews with a wide variety of people in which they discuss death and share their personal beliefs about the possibility of an afterlife; and includes conversations with people whose jobs bring them into contact with death on a regular basis."

Touch and go :
ISBN: 1595580433. OCLC Number:

New Press :. New York :. 2007.

At nearly 95, Studs Terkel has written about everyone's life, it seems, but his own. Here he offers a memoir which--embodying the spirit of the man himself--is youthful and vivacious. Terkel begins by taking us back to his childhood, describing the hectic life of a family trying to earn a living in Chicago. He then goes on to his experiences--as a poll watcher charged with stealing votes for the Democratic machine, as a young theatergoer, and eventually as an actor himself in both radio and on the stage--giving us a portrait of the Chicago of the 1920s and 1930s. He tells of his beginnings as a disc jockey after World War II and as an interviewer and oral historian--a craft he would come to perfect. Finally, he discusses his involvement with progressive politics, leading to his travails during the McCarthy period when he was blacklisted.--From publisher description.

Hard times :
ISBN: 1565846567. OCLC Number:

. .

"Persons of all ages, occupations, and classes scattered across the United States remember what they experienced or were told about the economic crisis of the 1930s. The result is a social document of immense interest."

Studs Terkel's Working :
ISBN: 1565846265. OCLC Number:

New Press,. New York :. 2001.

The Studs Terkel reader :
ISBN: 1595581774. OCLC Number:

New Press,. New York :. ©2007.

A collection of the best interviews from eight of Terkel's classic oral histories together with his introductions to each work.

The Studs Terkel interviews :
ISBN: 1595583599. OCLC Number:

New Press :. New York :. 2008, ©1999.

Chicago /
ISBN: 0394553373. OCLC Number:

. .

"Part history, part memoir, filled with anecdote, memory and personal reflection."--dust jacket.

Giants of jazz /
ISBN: 156584999X. OCLC Number:

New Press,. New York :. ©2006.

Brief biographies of thirteen jazz musicians who have made major contributions to the development of this form of music.

And they all sang :
ISBN: 1595581189. OCLC Number:

New Press :. New York :. 2005.

A selection of forty previously unpublished interviews with musicians from the past half-century includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian's discussions with such figures as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Louis Armstrong.

P.S. :
ISBN: 1595584234. OCLC Number:

New Press :. New York :. 2008.

"P.S. brings together these significant and deeply enjoyable writings for the first time and reflects Studs Terkel's wide-ranging interests and travels, as well as his abiding connection to his hometown, Chicago. Here we have a remarkable and moving conversation with James Baldwin, possibly Studs's finest interview with an author; vivid portraits of studs's heroes and cohorts; the transcript of Studs's famous broadcast on the Depression, the essence of what was to become Hard Times; and the transcript of his 1962 Prix Italls award-winning documentary Born to Live."--Jacket.


  • 1975 - National Book Award Finalist in Contemporary Affairs for
  • Working

  • 1985 - Pulitzer Prize for
  • The Good War

  • 1990 - his name was engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures.
  • 2006 - Illinois Literary Heritage Award from the Illinois Center for the Book.