Above: The Okemah Public Library is just up the hill from the long-ago-demolished "London place," where Woody and his family lived in 1913-1914.
The building in the photo above, located at 301 S. 2nd Street, was constructed by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1937 to replace the original library that was opened ten years earlier. Woody Guthrie was reportedly a frequent patron of the library and it is said that he was an avid reader. The present-day Okemah Public Library website reports that it "owns materials relating to Woody that were donated to it over the years, including books, albums and his high school yearbook which are currently on loan and displayed to the Okfuskee County History Center." The website erroneously identifies the Guthrie residence that once stood about a block east as his "birthplace." In fact, the "London place," as it was known at the time, was the second house in which Woody Guthrie lived as a child.
Despite Woody's fame, there are remarkably few websites devoted to him but there are plenty of books and also, of course, lots of recordings of his music. Here's a list of some of these, to help you learn more about the man who in my opinion and the opinion of many others, was America's greatest folk singer.
- Brower, Steven and Guthrie, Nora. Woody Guthrie Art Works (New York: Rizzoli, 2005).
- Cray, Ed. Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004).
- Dunaway, David King. How Can I Keep From Singing: The Ballad of Pete Seeger (New York: Villiard Books, 2008). Although this is actually a biography of Pete Seeger, there is a lot of material in here about Woody too.
- Guthrie, Woody. Bound For Glory (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1943 and 1968).
- Longhi, Jim. Woody, Cisco & Me: With Woody Guthrie in the Merchant Marine (New York: ibooks inc., 1997).
- Partridge, Elizabeth. This Land Was Made For You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie (New York: Viking, 2002).
- Woody Guthrie, The Asch Recordings
- Vol. 1: This Land Is Your Land (27 songs)
- Vol. 2: Muleskinner Blues (25 songs)
- Vol. 3: Hard Travelin' (27 songs)
- Vol. 4: Buffalo Skinners (26 songs)
- Woody Guthrie, Library of Congress Recordings (recorded by Alan Lomax)--3 CD set (29 songs)
- Smithsonian Folkways
- Woody Guthrie (with Cisco Houston and Sonny Terry), Struggle (12 songs)
- Leadbelly (with Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston and Sonny Terry, Leadbelly Sings Folk Songs (15 songs)
- BMG/Buddha Records, Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads (15 songs)
- Proper Records, Woody Guthrie, Some Folk--4 CD set (100 songs)
- Which Side Are You On? The Best of the Alamanac Singers, featuring Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger (31 songs)
- The Fight For Life
Woody has only a very small, uncredited part near the end of this 69 min. 27 sec. medical film about childbirth, which features his friend Will Geer. Woody appears for just a few seconds as a man sitting on a doorstep, playing a guitar. (U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, 1940)
- To Hear Your Banjo Play
Although this short film (16 minutes, 05 seconds) "stars" Pete Seeger, Woody is here too singing parts of two songs. On one, he is joined by Sonny Terry and Brownee McGhee. Just hit the "play" button and wait 8 minutes. Written by Alan Lomax. (Creative Age Films, 1947).
- The Columbia
Features Woody singing some of the songs that he wrote in the early 1940s to promote the Bonneville Power Administration's Columbia River dam project. (U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1949).
- Bound For Glory (MGM, 1976). Directed by Hal Ashby and starring Keith Carradine as Woody. Based more or less on Woody's autobiographical novel with the same title.
Photo of Woody Guthrie's childhood home (above), courtesy Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
All color photos copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
This is a personal website with no official connection to the City of Okemah, Oklahoma, the Woody Guthrie Coalition or Festival, or any other entity or organzation.
This website is completely not-for-proft. Its sole purpose is to inform and entertain.
This website copyright © 2012 (except where noted) by Steven R. Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.