505th Air Force Band of the Midwest Records (Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois), 1918-1993
Organized in four series: Series 1: Scrapbooks (1957-1991), Series 2: Photographs (1918-1992), Series 3: Administrative Records and Sound Recordings (1918-1991), and Series 4: Baton, Drumsticks and Band Uniform. Series 1 is organized into three subseries: Subseries 1: Historical Scrapbooks (1957-1987), Subseries 2: Concert Programs (1963-1991), and Subseries 3: Photographic Scrapbooks (1960-1991), all arranged by volume number. Series 2 is arranged by either music ensemble or subject with photographic prints listed first, followed by slides and negatives. Series 3 and 4 are arranged by type of records or subject.
Administrative History of Creating Unit
The 505th Air Force Band of the Midwest, a multi-faceted military band, was constituted September 24, 1941 and formally activated October 1, 1941 as the Air Force Band, Chanute Field, Illinois (later Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois). The band traces its origin to an unofficial post band founded at Chanute in 1918. It was first designated as the 5th Army Air Forces Band on August 10, 1942 and re-designated multiple times, finally becoming known as the 505th Air Force Band of the Midwest on September 26, 1947. More information on the band's designations and activation records can be found in Series 1, Box 1, Folder 1. Operating for nearly 50 years, the unit was disbanded as part of a reduction in the number of Air Force bands and ahead of the closure of Chanute Air Force Base in 1993. The 505th Air Force Band began as a 45-member unit, and was later downsized to 35 members. Large ensembles consisted of a concert/symphonic band, a ceremonial band, a marching band, as well as a big band-style jazz band, The Pacesetters (initially known as The Highknights). Several chamber music ensembles included the Lincoln Land Brass Quintet (or brass ensemble), a woodwind quintet and a clarinet quartet. The 505th also featured several different pop/rock bands throughout its history, including Horizon, Thyme, and Solo Flight. Well-known throughout the Midwest, the band in its various configurations and ensembles frequently gave concerts and participated in community festivals, parades, school assemblies, educational programs throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, also performing in Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky. The band and its ensembles produced a number of albums the most notable of which is an album featuring The Pacesetters with Dizzy Gillespie from the 1983 Wisconsin Jazz Festival in Fond du Lac. The final performance of 505th Air Force Band of the Midwest was at the Champaign County 4th of July Freedom Celebration on June 27, 1991 under the direction of Commander Allen C. Sierichs. The 505th Air Force Band of the Midwest's records were previously held by the Chanute Air Museum (1994-2015), received in 1998 following closure of the base. The records were transferred to the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in December of 2015 after the museum closed.
Chanute Air Museum
The historical records documenting the general operation of the Chanute Air Force Base were transferred to the Champaign County Historical Archives in May of 2015. These records include blueprints and maps, base publications, oral histories, aerial photographs of the base, subject files, photographs, scrapbooks and video recordings. In addition some records were also transferred from the Chanute Air Museum to the National Museum of the United States Air Force located in Dayton, Ohio.