Ronald D. Cohen Folk Music Reference Book Collection

Ronald D. Cohen Folk Music Reference Book Collection

Below is the finding aid that contextualizes and inventories this special collection at the Woody Guthrie Center Archives. Interested researchers must fill out an application prior to scheduling an appointment with the archivist.

Collection Title:

The Ronald D. Cohen Folk Music Reference Book Collection

View collection here:

Collection Number: 

2014-021  (Accessioned under 2014-021 and 2015-005)

Collection is open to additions at donor’s leisure.

Collection Processed by:

Managing Archivist Kate Blalack and Alex Sharp

Collection Cataloged by:

Alex Sharp

Biographical Sketch: 

Ronald Cohen was born in Los Angeles in 1940, and in the mid-1950s he and his brother discovered folk music, beginning with The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and similar folk artists of the time. This passion turned into dedicated scholarship moving Ron Cohen into position as one of the foremost authorities on the history of folk music in America. Cohen received his PhD in American History from the University of Minnesota and is Emeritus Professor of History, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, Indiaia. He is the author, co-author, and/or editor of numerous books, articles and publications.

His folk music publications include:

  • Wasn’t That a Time!”: Firsthand Accounts of the Folk Music Revival (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995);
  • (Co-produced with Dave Samuelson), Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left, 1926-1954 (10 CD box with 212 page illustrated book, Bear Family Records BCD 15720, 1996);
  • Agnes “Sis” Cunninghm and Gordon Friesen, Red Dust and Broadsides: A Joint Autobiography (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press,1999);
  • (Co-produced with Dave Samuelson), Goodnight Irene:The Weavers, 1949-1953 (4 CD box with illustrated book, Bear Family Records, 2000);
  • (Co-produced with Jeff Place), The Best of Broadside: 1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground From the Pages of Broadside Magazine (5 CD box with illustrated book, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2000);
  •  Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970 (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press,  2002);
  • Alan Lomax: Selected Writings, 1934-1997 (N.Y.: Routledge, 2003);
  • Folk Music: The Basics (N.Y.: Routledge, 2006);
  • A History of Folk Music Festivals in the Unites States: Feasts of Musical Celebration  (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008);
  • (Co-produced with Robert Riesnan), Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene: The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage (Toronto: ECW Press, 2009);
  • Work and Sing: A History of Occupational and Labor Union Songs in the United States (Crockett, CA: Carquinez Press/Fund for Labor Culture and History, 2010; distributed by the University of Illinois Press);
  • Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge: The Library of Congress Letters, 1935-1945 (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2011);
  • (Co-produced with Jim Capaldi), The Pete Seeger Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015);
  • Woody Guthrie: Writing America’s Songs (N.Y.: Routledge, 2012);
  • (Co-produced with Will Kaufman), Study War No More: A History of Peace Songs in the United States (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2014, distributed by Routledge);
  • (Co-produced with Rachel Donaldson), Roots of the Revival: American and British Folk Music in the 1950s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014)
  • (Co-produced with Stephen Petrus), Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2015);
  • Depression Folk: Grassroots Music and Left-Wing Politics in 1930s America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016);
  • “Jews in Folk Music,” Stars of David (Vienna: Hentrich & Hentrich, Judische Museum Wien, 2016), 200-203;
  • (Co-produced with David Bonner), Selling Folk Music: An Illustrated History, 1900-1970 (Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2017);
  • Cohen and Stephen Petrus, “Folk Music and Political Activism in Greenwich Village and at the Newport Folk Festival, 1935-1965,” Brett Lashua et al, eds., Sounds and the City, Vol. 2 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 279-302.

Scope and Contents: 

This reference book collection is part of the Ronald D. Cohen Folk Music Research Collection, and was assigned a separate designation due to the size of the collection and the circulating option for accessibility.

Related Materials: 

Ronald D. Cohen Folk Music Research Collection.

Ronald D. Cohen Collection, 1914-2005 (Bulk 1940-2005), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


Materials entirely in English

Collection Restrictions: 

This reference book collection is available through Interlibrary Loan and on a case-by-case basis by contacting the archivist, Mark Davidson.


Physically arranged according to Library of Congress Cataloging standards and available to view electronically through Library Thing (