Studs Terkel is Dead

by Harry on October 31, 2008

Tribune obit here.



Chris Bertram 11.01.08 at 12:06 am

Just saw it at the BBC, and headed over here to post, but you got here already Harry. Hard to say that it is sad, when he lived so long, but what achievement.


bob mcmanus 11.01.08 at 12:15 am

1) It is the loss of an irreplaceable talent.

Yes it is sad.

(Glory of Their Times predates Division Street and I remember it as comparable to Terkel’s best work.)


bob mcmanus 11.01.08 at 12:26 am

Somebody at Amazon mentions Alan Lomax as precursor to Ritter.

Anybody around know enough about oral history and interviewing as a craft to discuss Terkel’s standing among his peers, if he has any? Was Terkel even considered a practitioner?

According to Wikipedia, Oral History started being professionalized in the late 60s.


Antti Nannimus 11.01.08 at 1:01 am


Even while he lived, Anna Deavere Smith, an American living treasure in her own right, performed a magnificent tribute to Studs Terkel at TED in Feb 2oo5. If you missed it, you could look it up, and you owe it to yourself to see it now.

“Why do I feel so good?”

On a sad day,


cpareader 11.01.08 at 3:19 am

I am sure he voted early.


chris y 11.01.08 at 11:29 am

Sad that he didn’t make it to Tuesday. Or not. We’ll see.

We won’t see his like any time soon.


John Emerson 11.01.08 at 1:58 pm

Just getting into his prime, too.

Right now I’m reading about 30s politics, and I’m realizing that only people Terkel’s age, or nearly, can remember that era. My 84-year old neighbor just barely remembered moonshining during Prohibition, and also hated Roosevelt because she’d gone through misery when her husband had been drafted, leaving her with 2 kids.


Matt 11.01.08 at 2:16 pm

I very much enjoyed his book _Working_. The accounts of all sorts of jobs and how people felt about them was very interesting and enlightening. The way his work fell between journalism, sociology, and history sometimes made it hard to know how to use but always enjoyable and enlightening.


jacob 11.02.08 at 1:32 am

Bob McManus: I’m not an oral historian (though I’ve done some oral history), but my sense from my colleagues who are is that Turkel is a hero to them.


Danielle Day 11.03.08 at 8:57 pm

As Studs said, “Take it easy…but take it.”


Handmaiden to the Translational Biomedical Sciences 11.04.08 at 7:23 pm

As a longtime Chicago radio listener (since the 1970s, to WFMT and WBEZ), I would like to add one cavil about Studs Terkel among all the hagiography: the guy was really very boring to listen to or to read about 90% of the time. He had interesting guests and topics, but when he started talking he was always windy and usually had a hard time making a point. I would guess that a lot of his now-vocal fans never read his books (Division St is the best; Working is a real snooze), and that a lot of people weekly put him on the radio and then go about their business with his raspy drawl on in the background, not listening. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great Chicago tradition, but as long as WFMT keeps on broadcasting the Best of Studs, you can listen to the same shows over and over and probably never notice the difference. Andrew Patner is much better, though he would never admit it himself.

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