Thursday, December 29, 2011

Woody Guthrie's archives to reside in Oklahoma

Woody Guthrie, the Dust Bowl Troubadour, is one of Oklahoma's favorite sons. Born in Okemah on July 14, 1912, Woody became a prolific singer-songwriter whose Oklahoma roots colored his artistry. Speaking of his hometown, Woody said:
Okemah was one of the singingest, square dancingest, drinkingest, yellingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch towns and farm towns, because it blossomed out into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.
Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, described Woody:
Woody Guthrie is the greatest American folk singer/songwriter of all time. His art is deeply connected to Oklahoma's people and its history. It reflects the Oklahoma experience, from mobility and immigration to diversity and the longing for a sense of community. Whether it was the Indian forced onto a reservation, a farmer looking for new land or an oilman driven to find one more gusher, Woody gave voice to their hopes and dreams.
Oklahoma fans of Woody got some great news yesterday, when it was announced that the George Kaiser Family Foundation purchased Woody's archives and will move them from his daughter's home in New York to Oklahoma. The Woody Guthrie Center is expected to open in late 2012. The center will be housed in the Mathews Warehouse, a building in downtown Tulsa being converted into space for museums and arts organizations. The archives include:
  • Guthrie's original handwritten copy of "This Land is Your Land"
  • Original musical recordings
  • Nearly 3,000 song lyrics
  • Rare books by and about Guthrie
  • More than 700 of pieces of artwork, letters and postcards
  • Manuscripts and personal journals
  • More than 500 photographs
  • Handwritten songbooks
  • Guthrie's annotated record collection
  • Personal papers detailing family matters, Guthrie's World War II military service and musical career
  • A research paper detailing Guthrie's mental and physical deterioration from Huntington's disease
And what would be the point of a story about Woody Guthrie without examples of his music? Enjoy two of his great songs after the jump.

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