ABOUT THE Archives & COLLECTIONS

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Part of the Tulsa-based American Song Archives, the Woody Guthrie Center® Archives have an international and interdisciplinary reach, specifically in the fields of multimedia art and art history, musicology, political science, psychology and health sciences, women and gender studies, literature, and minority and multicultural studies.

An LLC of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the American Song Archives is dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s most enduring and inspiring songwriters. The American Song Archives manages, preserves, and provides access to countless treasures of American creativity from the archives of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and others.

The Woody Guthrie Center is an actively growing research center. Current holdings include the largest collection of Woody Guthrie primary resource materials in the world, housing papers of additional topical songwriters and special research collections ranging from the 1930s to present day. Materials include numerous research notes, clippings, personal papers, correspondence, original manuscripts, photographs, realia, lyrics, sheet music, sound recordings, musical instruments, fine art, and artifacts.

Additional related collections include the Woody Guthrie Manuscript Collection at the Library of Congress and the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution.

Visiting scholars and researchers also have access to the reference library. This includes books on a variety of topics covering a broad range of folk music studies beginning in the late 1800s.

The Woody Guthrie Center encourages original research and access to primary resources by partnering annually with the BMI Foundation for the Woody Guthrie Fellowship and A Still Small Voice Inc. for the Phil Ochs Fellowship, respectively.

Special Collections

Collections

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Special Collections

We have the largest collection of Woody Guthrie primary resource materials in the world, plus the papers of artists such as Phil Ochs and historians such as Ronald D. Cohen.

History of the Archives

The provenance of the original archival materials is Marjorie Mazia, Woody Guthrie’s second wife. She transferred this collection of his personal papers to the business offices of Harold Leventhal, Woody’s manager, where they remained untouched and unavailable for research until the 1980s.

At this time, noted blues and rock historian Bob Santelli organized the documents as part of a curatorial research project, and they were then transferred to the Woody Guthrie Foundation in New York. Under the direction of Woody’s daughter Nora, musicologist Jorge Arévalo Mateus fully processed the collection, which became available for public research during the early 1990s.

The collection grew first with donated research collections. These include the biographical notes of Ed Cray and the interviews collected by Joe Klein, which they gathered during their research investigations into Woody’s life.

In 2011, the George Kaiser Family purchased the Woody Guthrie Archives from the Woody Guthrie Foundation in Mount Kisco, New York. Under the supervision of managing archivist Tiffany Colannino, the archives and several gifted collections were transferred to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2013. Colannino also consulted on the original design of the research room and vault at Woody Guthrie Center, which includes a climate- and security-controlled archival storage safe equipped with baked enamel compact shelving, stainless steel work surfaces, nitrogen fire-suppression system, and archival office.

Since their transfer to Tulsa, the archives and collections have grown expansively and now include the papers and family collections of Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Maxine Crissman (aka Lefty Lou); the research collection of music historian Ronald D. Cohen; and several other collections of primary and secondary research materials.

In 2019, the research room and vault were renovated with more shelving for the growing reference library, more artifact shelving in the vault, and additional work tables and storage for the archives’ offices.

Licensing & Permissions

The Woody Guthrie Center Archives collections comprise materials obtained from various sources. All items created by Woody Guthrie are held under copyright by Woody Guthrie Publications Inc. Additional items within the collections are also protected by copyright, trademark, and/or restrictions held by others.

The Woody Guthrie Center does not issue licenses for the artist’s lyrics or text. For permission to reproduce any of his writing or other materials — including scanned reproductions or textual transcriptions of lyrics, manuscripts, or correspondence — please contact Woody Guthrie Publications Inc.

Donating to the Archives

Because Woody Guthrie Center is a nonprofit organization, donations and the generosity of those interested in the mission help actively grow the thriving historical resource holdings at the Woody Guthrie Center Archives, which is part of the American Song Archives. All donated materials are processed, professionally preserved, and made accessible according to national archival standards.

As a collecting institution, we cannot provide monetary appraisals or valuations of materials. If you are seeking a valuation or a tax deduction, please contact an independent appraiser prior to donation.

If you are considering a contribution to our archival collections, please review the collection development policy and submit the following form for the team to connect with you. Thank you for supporting the Woody Guthrie Center.

Donation Form

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  • Please include details regarding your donation(s), including specific information or questions.