Guthrie, Woody

Alternative names
Birth 1912-07-14
Death 1967-10-03

Biographical notes:

American folk singer.

From the description of Signature, dated : [n.p, n.d.], [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270926356

Biographical History and Administrative History

Woody Guthrie, born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912 and raised in Texas, moved to California during the Depression, where he met actor and activist Will Geer and toured migrant labor camps documenting conditions and injustices in the camps for The Light newspaper. He also performed on Los Angeles radio KFVD-LA, singing old-time ballads, some of which he updated with lyrics about contemporary issues. Alan Lomax, assistant in charge of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, first heard Woody Guthrie at a concert in New York City in March of 1940, shortly after Guthrie had relocated there.

Alan Lomax arranged for Guthrie to travel to Washington, D.C. to record an oral life history that included traditional and original songs, and encouraged him to write his autobiography. Guthrie performed on several "Folk Music of America" radio shows hosted by Alan Lomax on CBS's American School of the Air. In New York, Woody Guthrie joined Lomax's sister, Bess Lomax Hawes, Pete Seeger, and others in a singing group, the Almanac Singers, for which Guthrie wrote protest ballads and songs. More information on Woody Guthrie's life and career can be found through the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives at .

The Archive of American Folk Song was founded in 1928 at the Library of Congress to collect and preserve American folksongs. During the years when the earliest Guthrie collections were acquired, from 1940 to 1950, the Archive was directed by: John A. Lomax (1932-1942), Alan Lomax (assistant in charge, 1937-1942), Benjamin Botkin (1942-1945), and Duncan Emrich (1946-1954). It was through Alan Lomax's recording projects and his personal friendship with Woody Guthrie that these early materials were added to the Archive. When Alan Lomax's entire collection of papers and recordings was acquired by the American Folklife Center in 2004, additional Woody Guthrie manuscripts were included, which add to the Archive's Guthrie holdings. To reflect its broader mission and collections the Archive was re-named the Archive of Folk Culture in 1981 and is now a part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

From the guide to the Woody Guthrie Manuscript Collection, 1935-1950, (Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center Library of Congress)


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Ark ID:


  • Folk singers--United States--Correspondence
  • Music--20th century
  • Oregon
  • children's songs
  • Songbooks--United States
  • Protest songs--United States--Texts
  • Political ballads and songs--United States--Texts
  • Songs, English--Texts
  • Music--Oregon--20th century


  • Arrangers
  • Composers


  • Columbia River (as recorded)
  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • Columbia River (as recorded)