Arhoolie Records was founded in 1960 by German immigrant Chris Strachwitz to record "down home blues" artists such as Lightnin' Hopkins and Snooks Eaglin. The term "arhoolie" is derived from a word for "field holler", a mostly historical type of vocal music sung by Southern plantation workers. Arhoolie's first album release was a recording of Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb, put together by Strachwitz and his friends as a small edition of 250 homemade copies.
During the 1960s, Arhoolie released many influential so-called field recordings of artists such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Clifton Chenier. Most of the output was rural blues music and related genres such as cajun, zydeco and folk music. The label is still in operation today with Strachwitz still running the business as president.
Chris Strachwitz has published a detailed history of Arhoolie Records, which you can find here.