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All the Places We’ve Been…

It’s been an incredibly busy week for everyone at the Woody Guthrie Center. Last week I was gone at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in New Orleans, and I have a lot of catching up to do…almost there!

Since the team here at the Center is entirely new (only a few months under our wings), we are still learning the ins and outs of our home away from home. An excellent part of the environment here is that we have a group support system. This includes our mentors at The GRAMMY Museum and friends at Woody Guthrie Publications. Employers don’t often stress enough how important working together in harmony is for an organization and how much the people you work with can enhance how you feel about yourself and the work you do. Here we are fortunate enough to have personalities that work to build up positive qualities in each other, and this leaves an open environment, ripe for creativity.

There is no doubt, but I’ll say it again: Woody Guthrie was full of creativity. Yesterday I was leafing through some of his notebooks. Some of these are a single contemplative letter, several pages long, and each notebook is an entry into his heart and thoughts in some way. Each one is expressive either by use of color, scale of script, word choice, and usually all three! I’m sure many archivists who work with personal collections will agree with me that in our positions we really are the existential mind-readers. We often have an opportunity to learn about individuals who are long gone as if they were just around the corner: a family member or even best friend. Woody has the feeling of a best friend. He was sincere with his thoughts and open with those he cared for. He was lyrical in his writing and enchanting in the way he composed.

The Woody Guthrie Archives holds over 100 notebooks written by Guthrie. Photograph by Bradly Brown. © Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.

The Woody Guthrie Archives holds over 100 notebooks written by Guthrie. Photograph by Bradly Brown. © Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.

In the Woody Guthrie Archives we have numerous notebooks filled with Woody’s compositions. These are a rich place to research where he was internally and mentally during certain external time periods. The finding aid for these can be viewed here: http://woodyguthriecenter.org/archives/collection/notebooks/ – notebooks-series-2

We get to know people by sharing experiences with them, and sometimes we can share experiences with writers who are long gone or far from us physically in one way or another. It’s interesting how the written word can connect ideas and minds. I am getting to know Woody better each day, and I thank him for sharing his insight.