Woody Guthrie Archives Newsletter
/ Summer 2005
truly spells out renewal and transition for the Woody Guthrie Archives.
In efforts to improve our research services and better care for
the collection, the archives recently underwent considerable renovations.
While we had to close the archives for a brief period, we are confident
that the new space and furnishings will better serve the needs of
staff, researchers and visitors alike. The renovation not only provides
additional space for the growing collection, its new design enables
more efficient access to the collection as well as a safer and more
stable environment for the material. We are truly excited about
these improvements and look forward to welcoming everyone to the
archives, as we get back to the business of bringing the Woody Guthrie
Collection to where it belongs! To the people.
In spite of
all the renovations--and its impact on our workflow--archives staff
has been busily working on several ongoing and new projects:
recently conducted the first oral history of the Woody Guthrie
Oral History Project with Elmer J. Buhler. Mr. Buhler was
Woody’s driver and compañero in 1941,
when Guthrie served as a contract artist assigned to write
songs for the Bonneville Power Administration, a US government
public works project. Although many of Woody’s songs
resulting from this period are well-known folk classics
(i.e., Grand Coulee Dam, Pastures of Plenty, Roll On Columbia),
thanks to Mr. Buhler, we have added an important perspective
on the events, people and places which sparked Guthrie’s
outburst of creativity and patriotism. We have our good
friend Bill Murlin to thank for conducting the first off
site oral history at Mr. Buhler’s Portland, Oregon
home for the Woody Guthrie Archives.
One of our most
significant research initiatives yet was newly launched: the Woody
Guthrie Research Fellowship program. In partnership and with the
support of the BMI Foundation, Inc., this program offers financial
support to individuals working on projects which advance Guthrie
scholarship and research. For further information, please go to
outreach efforts are also coming along, as we continue to work with
Brooklyn College’s Music Library staff to develop a web-based
Woody Guthrie songs archive. And, for the first time, staff from
the Woody Guthrie Foundation will participate at the 8th Annual
Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, held in Woody’s birthplace and
hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. For festival details, visit http://www.woodyguthrie.com.
bid farewell to Felicia Katz Harris, who has accepted
a position starting July 1 as curator of Asian and Middle Eastern
Folk Art at the Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe, New
Mexico). As the archivist for the Woody Guthrie Archives for nearly
4 years, Felicia has contributed a great deal and will be missed.
We wish her the best in all her endeavors.
Whether in New
York City, Okemah, Santa Fe, or wherever our roads may cross, we
look forward to seeing and hearing from you.
We are nearing
completion of the first extensive publication that presents and
explores Woody Guthrie primarily as a visual artist. The Woody Guthrie
art book, edited and designed by Steven Brower, will contain hundreds
of paintings, drawings, and other visual works of art from the Guthrie
Collection. Published by Rizzoli Press and to be released in October
2005, we are excited about introducing Woody’s art to the
world and highly anticipate this project to be a great success!
This past February,
Monmouth University of New Jersey hosted four WGFA traveling exhibitions
to complement performances by Ribbon of Highway, Jimmy LaFaves’s
musical tribute touring company. Exhibitions from the Archives included
THE FACES OF WOODY GUTHRIE: Photographs; BOUND FOR GLORY: Woody
Guthrie’s Self-Illustrated Life Story; THIS IS THE HAND: Woody’s
Vision of Labor; and, SING LIKE ME: Popular Song Lyrics
by Woody Guthrie.
If you haven’t
yet seen the Woody Guthrie section in BOB DYLAN’S AMERICAN
JOURNEY 1956-1966 exhibition at the Experience Music Project in
Seattle, it’s showing through September 5, 2005. There are
plans to travel the critically acclaimed exhibit, for which the
Archives provided Woody Guthrie material. So be on the lookout for
the traveling exhibition schedule at www.emplive.org/visit/travel_exhibits/index.asp.
Nora Guthrie presented the program HOLY GROUND at the Spertus Institute
in Chicago and at the Jacob Burns Film Center, which was created
with lyrics, photos, recordings, and other material from the archives
that explore Woody Guthrie’s Jewish songs and his relationship
with his mother-in-law and Yiddish poetess, Eliza Greenblatt.
In his talk,
entitled “A3 DADDIES TO ATOM FIRES: Woody's Inspiration and
Message in His Lyrics,” Woody Guthrie Foundation administrator
Michael Smith offered his interpretations of selected Woody Guthrie
song lyrics, discovered while researching and copyrighting material
from the Archives. The presentation was held at the People’s
Music Network workshop in Jackson Heights, NY.
Harris gave a lecture entitled, “AS WOODY SEES IT: Artwork
from his Autobiography ‘Bound For Glory’,” to
a Sing Out! and Lehigh Valley Folk Music Society sponsored celebration
of Woody Guthrie held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Library in Westchester County, New York hosted an exhibit of photographs,
artwork, and awards from the Woody Guthrie Archives. Presented in
conjunction with Nora Guthrie’s film presentation, “I've
Sung This Song,” visitors also had the opportunity to view
rare film clips from the archives.
BMI, Inc., also
recently hosted the WGFA traveling exhibit, SING LIKE ME: Popular
Song Lyrics by Woody Guthrie in the lobby of their Manhattan office
building. This special exhibit is a selection of 10 popular songs
by Woody Guthrie. The installation was prepared in association with
the official announcement of the Woody Guthrie Fellowship Program.
Machine Kills Fascists: The Woody Guthrie Story,” a documentary
by Stephen Gammond (Snapper Music, London) is officially completed
and will soon be released. Be on the look out for this one, it promises
to be a revelation!
Researchers and Visitors to the Archives:
worked with numerous musicians and artists this past season. Vince
Herman of Leftover Salmon researched Woody’s song lyrics for
a joint project with Rob Wasserman. Frank London, Lisa Gutkin, and
Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics researched lyrics for their Holy
Ground CD project, a follow up to the successful Happy Joyous Hanukkah
Trishka and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell spent
time in the Archives researching Woody’s lyrics in search
of new children’s songs.
a graduate student in Library Science visited the Archives for a
research project regarding the structure and organization of Archives.
a PhD student at Univeristat Duisberg Essen (Germany) visited the
Archives for two weeks for his doctoral research on the context
of Woody Guthrie’s Dustbowl Ballads. Martin is comparing Woody’s
song lyrics line by line to historical texts, news clippings, and
continues to transcribe a manuscript titled “My Forsaken Bible,”
written by Woody Guthrie in 1956 while at Greystone Park Psychiatric
Hospital, New Jersey. This manuscript is a play written by Woody
about daily life in the psychiatric ward. The play is meant to be
a musical, and Woody even included lyrics for songs. In transcribing
this body of work (which is at times illegible due to Woody’s
loss of motor skills), Jim is making great strides in helping us
to understand the significance of this body of work.
This past season
we received some terrific donations. Here are highlights of just
a few of the many items we recently accessioned into the collection:
donated an issue of Life Magazine dated November 10, 1967. The issue
includes the tribute by Pete Seeger, "So Long Woody, It's Been
Good To Know Ya."
donated a copy of Leftover Salmon’s album, "Leftover
Salmon." (High Country Records, 2004), which includes the song
PhD candidate at Stanford University, and long-time friend of the
Archives, donated a copy of his unpublished paper, "Hard Travelin':
The Construction of Woody Guthrie's Legacy."
The Joel Rafael
Band donated their new CD, "Woodyboye: Songs of Woody Guthrie
(and tales worth telling volume II)." Appleseed Recordings
APR CD 1086, 2005.
and Michael Kleff donated an audio CD of interviews recorded during
their recent visit to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)
headquarters and the Bonneville Dam in Portland, Oregon. This oral
history project was recorded by Michael Kleff (Nora Guthrie’s
husband and editor of the German publication, Folker) and includes
conversations with Bill Murlin (the BPA Public Affairs Specialist
who assembled the “Woody Guthrie Columbia River Collection
Songbook” and helped to produce the accompanying recording),
musician Carl Allen, and Skip Fowler, an Army Corps of Engineers
ranger who gave Nora and Michael a tour of the BPA grounds.
past semester, the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives had the
good fortune to work with two extraordinary interns. Kate
Harto is a senior at Ramapo College in New Jersey and was
instrumental in helping to catalog the entire Ed Cray Collection,
and prepare the collection for permanent storage. Thanks to Kate,
researchers will have much better access to the incredible depth
of material donated by Woody Guthrie biographer Ed Cray (such as
interview transcriptions, correspondences, articles, and research
notes). In addition, Kate helped prepare several exhibitions for
Urgola is a senior at Adelphi University in Long Island,
NY. Scott worked hard at transcribing original song lyrics for the
Archives’ records and helped fill copy requests from researchers.
In addition, Scott played a key hand (literally) in helping us pack
and move the Archives collection to off-site storage for the current
renovation. We owe both interns a world of gratitude in helping
to carry the Archives through another season!
We are a small,
but very busy office. If you are interested in internship or volunteer
opportunities at the Woody Guthrie Archives, please submit a resume,
a brief proposal of the type of work you are interested in doing,
and a list of three references.
We are presently
interested in candidates with the following credentials:
in maintaining, developing and designing web site content.
- Interest in transcribing Woody Guthrie's original song lyrics.
- Background in cataloging archival material
may include answering general reference calls, providing administrative
support, and helping out with various archives projects.
will have a background in archival or library science, museum studies,
music history, or a related area. An interest in, and special knowledge
of, Woody Guthrie and folk music is a plus, as are A/V skills.
and inquiries should be sent to:
Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives
250 West 57th St., Suite 1218
New York, NY 10107
for Conducting Research at the Archives:
by the range of scholarship, creativity, and inspiration that the
Woody Guthrie Collection offers, the Archives welcomes researchers,
scholars, artists, musicians, publishers, filmmakers, and those
pursuing interests related to the life, works, and times of Woody
must complete an Application
for Research Form. Successful applicants are
invited to set up an appointment with the archivist on Tuesday,
Wednesday, and Fridays between 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
visitors to look at the Online Collection Finding Aids on our website
before visiting the archives. At this time, due to limited staff
time and to protect the delicate collection, we are unable to accommodate
general interest visits. We hope that our ever-improving website
will satisfy general interest.
information or questions, please contact the archivist.