ARCHIVE SPOTLIGHTThe Woody Guthrie Papers
Woodrow (Woody) Wilson Guthrie (1912-1967) was one of the most important folk composers in American history. Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, Guthrie is associated with the common people and those displaced by the Great Dust Storms of the 1930s. He was a prolific songwriter, and his song "This Land is Your Land" is considered by many to be his best known. Guthrie's earliest recordings were done for RCA and came out as a set entitled Dust Bowl Ballads, later reissued by Folkways.
Although known for his music, Guthrie was also a visual artist. Among the materials that came with the Folkways Records Collection are watercolors and pen and ink drawings. He also was a writer of note; his most famous work being the autobiographically based novel Bound for Glory. Historians have begun to consider Guthrie an important literary figure of the 20th century. The Woody Guthrie Papers—including typed song lyrics, correspondence, drawings, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous items—were left with Moses Asch, and came to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections as part of the Moses and Frances Asch Collection. Guthrie died of Huntington's Chorea in 1967 after a long hospitalization.