Rosenthal Archives


About the Rosenthal Archives

On this day in CSO history:

Scope of the Collection

The Samuel and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra holds over 2,000 linear feet of materials related to the founding, operation and governance of the CSO, Orchestra Hall and Symphony Center, Civic Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus. The collections encompass a wide range of formats including manuscripts, printed books and music, architectural plans, scrapbooks, press clippings, programs, photographs, sound recordings, films and videos.

Scope of the Collection and Search Tips

Read more about the scope of the Rosenthal Archives and get tips for using THEODORE to find recordings, photographs, programs, film and video.

Scope of the Collection and Search Tips (PDF) >

Reference Services

The staff of the Rosenthal Archives offers reference services to Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Center Presents subscribers and the general public during regular business hours. To receive reference assistance, you may call the reference desk, fax,  or write to the Rosenthal Archives.

Reference questions should be of an historical nature. When corresponding by email, fax or letter, please include your name, return address, telephone number, fax number and your institutional affiliation, if applicable. We also ask that you specify the intended use of the information requested (personal research, publication, school project, etc.).

For general information concerning the history of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its music directors, please refer to History of the CSO. Most of the books listed in the Bibliography can be consulted at public libraries or obtained through interlibrary loan. Because the materials housed in the Archives are rare and most often unique, they do not circulate and must be consulted on-site.

We are pleased to provide free reference services to subscribers and the general public as long as requests are limited to general questions about past conductors, guest artists, repertory, musicians, recordings, etc., that can be answered quickly using existing finding aids and our online catalog. Upon the discretion of the director, the Archives' staff will undertake more extensive research for scholars, publishers or others residing outside the Chicago area willing to pay an hourly fee. Requests for compilations of individual performance histories and discographies or microfilm searches, are subject to an hourly research fee. The Archives' staff will gladly assist those who wish to conduct research on-site.

Duplication Policies

The Archives staff can duplicate materials in the collections only if the items are unrestricted and in good condition. Copies are normally provided only for the purposes of private study, scholarship and research in accordance with the "fair use" provisions of United States copyright law. All requests for copies require approval from the Archives staff, completion of applicable use agreements, and advance payment of all fees. No material may be published without prior approval and the completion of a Permission to Publish form covering provisions for use and requirements for acknowledgements. Publication and for-profit uses are approved on a case-by-case basis and may be subject to additional use fees.

Photocopies of printed materials as well as photocopies from microfilms are provided for a minimum fee of $2.50 (for 1-10 pages) plus postage; each additional page is twenty-five ($.25) cents thereafter. Photographs will not be duplicated strictly for personal use or private collections and will not be licensed for advertising use. The duplication of visual images, including photographs and slides, will be arranged and undertaken by the Archives staff through a company of its own choice; fees vary and estimates will be provided upon request. The majority of materials in the audio and moving image collection are restricted to on-site access and may not be duplicated for private use; for-profit use of these materials requires permission from the vice president for operations and the payment of all applicable fees and royalties.

Donating Materials

The Rosenthal Archives welcomes the donation of materials relating to the history of the CSO.


from the archives blog: musings from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Rosenthal Archives >

Formed in 1990 during the CSO’s centennial season, the Samuel R. and Marie Louise Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra house an extensive collection of audio-visual materials, programs, photographs, newspaper clippings and administrative records documenting the activities of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Civic Orchestra and Orchestra Hall and Symphony Center events.

The CSO horn section in 1941.

History of the CSO

Beginning with the incorporation of The Orchestral Association in 1890, find out more about the CSO’s distinguished history >

The CSO’s first recording: the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Scope of the Collection

The collections encompass a wide range of formats including recordings, photographs, programs, video, film, posters and memorabilia...

Scope of the Collection and THEODORE Search Tips (PDF) >
Theodore Thomas

Search the online Catalog

Through a project generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the majority of archival holdings are now fully searchable via THEODORE, the online database of the Rosenthal Archives. Included are corporate records, music manuscripts, selected photographs and recorded sound and moving image collections.

Search THEODORE Catalog >