The Arhoolie Foundation
Home About Projects News Donate Contact Links About Us

The Arhoolie Foundation was established in 1995 to document, preserve, present and disseminate authentic traditional and regional vernacular music. By our activities we hope to help educate and enlighten the public and also support and reinforce traditional community values.

The Arhoolie Foundation was classified by the IRS as a public charitable and educational non-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status, which means all your donations are fully tax deductible.

Although the Foundation shares its name with Arhoolie Productions Inc., a for-profit, it is not a successor to that Corporation. The Arhoolie Foundationdoes not control and is not controlled by the Arhoolie Corporation or any other organization.

The Arhoolie Foundation Board of Directors
Chris Strachwitz - President
Tom Diamant - Treasurer
Adam Machado - Secretary
Bill Belmont
John Leopold
Laurie Lewis
Laura Littlefield
Davia Nelson
Eugene Rodriguez
Linda Ronstadt
Joel Selvin
Suzy Thompson
Joe Wilson


The Arhoolie Foundation Advisory Board

T Bone Burnett

Bob Dylan

Michael Doucet

Billy Gibbons

Alan Govenar

Queen Ida Guillory

Neal Halfon

Steve Miller

Charlie Musselwhite

Bonnie Raitt

Ann Savoy

Nick Spitzer

Tom Waits

Elijah Wald


Initial Goals of the Arhoolie Foundation

  1. To educate the public about the history and the present state of traditional, vernacular or regional musics by making research and publications available to the communities of origin as well as to the public at large.
  2. To aid in the dissemination of such knowledge by assisting in the distribution of educational materials (audio, visual, and printed).
  3. To acquire artifacts (records, photos, broadsides, song books, etc.) by soliciting donations of such objects and maintaining an archive which shall be accessible to scholars and the general public.
  4. To maintain, catalog and make available to the public the Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican-American Recordings (donated by Mr. Strachwitz to the Arhoolie Foundation) consisting of over 17,000 - 78 rpm discs, roughly 23,000 - 45rpm discs and about 4,000 LP records, which are kept in the Arhoolie Records vault.
Assets of the Foundation
The primary asset owned by The Arhoolie Foundation at this time is the Chris Strachwitz Frontera Collection, probably the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of commercially-issued phonograph records of Mexican-American and Mexican vernacular material.

The Frontera Collection consists of approximately 17,000 - 78 rpm discs (dating from c. 1906 to 1960), about 23,000 - 45 rpm discs (c. 1953 to 1995), and close to 4,000 - 33 rpm LP albums (1950s to 1990s). The Frontera Collection has been cataloged primarily with grants from the NEA and NARAS. Digitization of the 78 rpm discs has been completed with grants from the Los Tigres Del Norte Foundation via UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center and the Fund For Folk Culture in order to preserve these fragile artifacts (many of them one-of-a-kind) and to make them accessible at this time to scholars and the general public via the UCLA Library system. The collection of 45 rpm discs is at this time about one-third completed but we are in need of funds to continue into 2010.

Where does the name "Arhoolie" come from?
When Mack McCormick suggested ARWHOOLIE as the name for Chris Strachwitz's fledgling record label in 1960, Chris' initial response was, "AR-what?" The name comes from a word for a field holler, a song sung by laborers to accompany their work. The word, spelled as above by the recordist, appeared on a Library of Congress recording made in Mississippi and apparently was the response of the singer when asked what he called the selection just recorded. Chris says: "I have since heard the word 'hoolie' in reference to a field holler, but I think the 'ar' in front of it was simply the man stuttering a bit in Mississippi fashion when somewhat nervous!"