Woody Guthrie’s Personal Papers

Woody Guthrie’s Personal Papers

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 Processed by:

 Jorge Arévalo Mateus, PhD

Collection Guide Prepared by: 

Original finding aid was prepared by Jorge’ Arevalo Mateus, PhD; updated by Melissa Kunz, June 2014.

Date Range:

1940 – 1990


1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)


Marjorie Guthrie & offices of Harold Leventhal

Scope and Content:

Military records, contracts, royalty statements, scripts, song lists, performance notes and itineraries, family papers, and hospital records relating to: Woody Guthrie’s service in the Merchant Marine and United States Army; his activities as a performer and songwriter; home and family life; his stays in hospitals; and writings and drawings created by others.  Also included, as additional related material, are documents pertaining to Woody’s family, home and employment activities that appear to have been obtained by the Woody Guthrie Foundation from a variety of sources.


Entirely in English.

Access restrictions:

Because of privacy considerations, access to one document in Box 2, Folder 28 (“envelope, with markings by Woody Guthrie”) will not be granted until January 1,


Use restrictions:

All materials is copyrighted to Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.


The papers are arranged in six series: Merchant Marine and military; Woody Guthrie, performer and songwriter; home and family; hospital and medical; works by others; and additional related material.

Related Materials:

For related materials please see the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress or Woody at 100: the Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection at the Smithsonian Folkways.

List of Series:

Series 1: Merchant Marine and Military

Series 2: Woody Guthrie, performer and songwriter

Series 3: Home and family

Series 4: Hospital and medical

Series 5: Works by others

Series 6: Additional related material




Note: This series contains three subdivisions: Merchant Marine; military service; and military benefits.The Merchant Marine subseries includes documentation of 1990 proceedings recognizing Guthrie’s wartime service.In addition to providing extensive documentation of Guthrie¹s activities as a serviceman, the military service records contain an assortment of notes, jottings and drawings.Of particular interest is Guthrie’s account of an attack on African-American servicemen by white troops at Scott Field, Illinois (Box 1, Folder 10). Guthrie’s correspondence with his local draft board contains much information concerning his Merchant Marine and creative activities (Box 1, Folder 05).Guthrie’s teletype notes and lessons also contain drawings and essays (Box 1, Folder 11).
A. Merchant Marine
01 “Joint Meeting” — notes re: meeting of William Floyd crew members 1944
02 Correspondence re application for discharge 1990
03 Certificate of Release or Discharge; Honorable Discharge 1990
04 Certificate of Service, B. Military service 1990
05 Correspondence with Selective Service System 1943-44
06 Induction Notice; memo re Classification Section interview 1943-44
07 1262nd S.C.U. News Digest, Fort Dix, New Jersey(to be moved to oversize box) 1945
08 Newspapers — Sheppard Field Texacts;Scott Field Broadcaster (to be moved to oversize box) 1945
09 transfer from Sheppard Field, Texas to Scott Field, Illinois 1945
10 Scott Field — notes re various subjects (to be moved to oversize box) 1945
11 Scott Field — teletype notes, messages, forms (to be moved to oversize box) 1945
12 Scott Field — Army teletype memoranda 1945
13 Scott Field — letters from Suggestion Committee 1945
14 Drawings (Scott Field[?]) 1945
15 Publications 1944-45
16 Publication — “The GI Bill of Rights” 1945
17 Separation from service 1946
18 Official Records envelope 1946
19 Certificate of Appreciation for War Service 1946
20 Army Papers folder c. 1945-46[?]
C. Military benefits
21 Dependency Benefits — application and data sheet 1945
22 National Service Life Insurance 1945-53, n.d.
23 Army Finance Center Adjustment Division – re payments to Mary E. Guthrie, Woody Guthrie 1947
24 Veterans Administration benefits (various) 1953-61, n.d.


Note: This series contains three subdivisions: financial and business; scripts; and notes, schedules and lists.The financial and business papers contain an assortment of contracts signed by Guthrie, with a variety of entities and individuals, including Huddie Ledbetter, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.  The other major component of this subdivision are royalty statements and related material.The financial and business papers also include quotations and blurbs compiled by Guthrie; documents pertaining to Guthrie’s and Marjorie Mazia’s employment in a summer camp; and a 1952 receipt for his Martin guitar.The series also contains a number of radio and dance scripts, some bearing annotations by Woody Guthrie. The notes, schedules and lists in the series concern the Almanac Singers, performances for union and political groups, children’s songs and parties, and a U.S. Public Health Service radio campaign featuring songs about syphilis.  Also included are Earl Robinson’s comments on numerous Guthrie songs, along with Guthrie¹s annotations (Box 1, Folder 53).
A. Financial and business
25 contracts 1940-49
26 folder titled “Contracts – Copyrights – Etc – Royalties” n.d.
27 Royalty statements, contract, and related material (from folder titled “Papers”) 1946-56
28 folder titled “Papers” n.d.
29 note to “M & P” re copyrighting songs c. 1942
30 “Things They Said About Woody Guthrie All Along” c. 1947
31 Stone Crest Day Camp, Bethlehem, NH 1948
32 Receipt for guitar 1952
B. Scripts
33 Radio script — The Chisholm Trail: A Ballad Opera of the Old West by Elizabeth Lomax (item appears to be Cisco Houston’s copy) 1944
34 Radio script — Hootenanny of the Air, by Alan Lomax c. 1949
35 Radio script — Hootenanny of the Air, by Alan Lomax (with Woody Guthrie annotations) c. 1949
36 Songs for Oscar Brand radio program, WNYC 1950
37 Script of BBC program of Scottish ballads collected by Alan Lomax 1951
38 Script — “Folksay” (Sophie Maslow dance) n.d.
39 The Song of the Gypsy Dave by John J. Greenway n.d.
C. Notes, schedules, lists
40 Almanac Singers — notes and schedules 1941
41 Songsheet from Westinghouse strike, Hamilton, Ontario 1946
42 Song list c. 1946[?]
43 notes re Peoples Artists meeting 1947
44 List of songs for Progressive Citizens of America party 1948
45 Song list — “V.D. – Ideas” 1949[?]
46 “Juke Box Songs to Fight Syphilis”, New York Daily News (photocopy) 1949
47 Names for Marjorie & Woody’s Kids Parties n.d.
48 Song lists and notes re: children’s songs n.d.
49 Assorted notes and song lists, mainly re: children’s songs, fires n.d.
50 Song list — “W & T” n.d.
51 Song lists, lyrics n.d.
52 announcement of People’s Songs furniture party n.d.
53 Earl Robinson — comments on Woody Guthrie songs (with Guthrie annotations); folder also contains Guthrie song lists and notes n.d.


Note: This series contains a small number of items about Guthrie’s home and family life, including a memo by Marjorie Mazia with various “reminders” for Woody Guthrie (Box 2, Folder 1.2)Related material, including writings of Woody’s father, C.E. Guthrie, and excerpts of an Okemah, Oklahoma High School Yearbook, may be found in Series 6.
1.1 Rent and utility receipts, 74 Charles Street, New York City 1942-43
1.2 “Woody’s Little Memo” — Marjorie Mazia’s list of activities and reminders c. 1942
1.3 note from Marjorie Mazia to “Ruth” (Cathy Guthrie’s babysitter) c. 1943-47
1.4 Gwen Guthrie school assignment — “A Friendly Letter” 1947
2 Arlo Guthrie’s nicknames 1948
0 Jack Guthrie Memorial Folio 1950
4.1 note re “grape juice”, Arlo (also, notes re books) 1951
4.2 Building Permit, 1618-24 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn, New York 1951
5 notes re animals [trip to zoo?] n.d.


Note: This series primarily consists of documents from Guthrie’s hospitalization at The New Jersey State Hospital at Greystone Park (1956-1961).As noted in “Collection restrictions”, access to one document in Box 2, Folder 28 (“envelope, with markings by Woody Guthrie”) will not be granted until January 1, 2033.
Brooklyn State Hospital
6 newspaper and magazines articles, found with Brooklyn State Hospital ms., Aug.-Sept., 1952 (some to be moved to oversize box) 1952
The New Jersey State Hospital at Greystone Park
7 The New Jersey State Hospital at Greystone Park folder cover (photocopy; original located in oversize box) (photocopy; original located in oversize box) 1956-61
8 Commitment proceedings, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Morris County, New Jersey 1956
9 Medical Staff Record; Admission Notes; Case History 1956-61
10 Photographic Record (photocopy;original moved to photographs) 1956
11 Doctor’s Order Sheet; Clinical Record 1956
12 Doctor’s Order Sheets; Clinical Record 1956-60
13 X-Ray Requisition; Pathological Laboratory Reports 1956-59
14 Change of Diagnosis 1957
15 Medication Lists 1957-61
16 Telephone and Telegram Messages 1957-58
17 Occupational Therapy Progress Note 1959
18 Accident Report 1960
19 Discharge records 1956-61
20 Correspondence 1956
21 Correspondence 1957
22 Correspondence 1958
23 Correspondence 1959
24 Correspondence 1960
25 Correspondence 1961
26 Correspondence 1965-66
27 “Information for Patients and Their Families” n.d.
28 envelope, with markings by Woody Guthrie 1957
29 Greystone Park — receipts 1959-60
Creedmoor State Hospital
30 Notification of Admission 1966
31 Marjorie Mazia’s notes re Woody Guthrie’s health n.d.


Note: This series consists of poems, songs, essays, stories and drawings by persons other than Woody Guthrie.  Some of the documents contain Guthrie’s annotations or are transcriptions by him.  A number of the documents in this series were created by Anneke Van Kirk, Guthrie’s third wife.The series is arranged alphabetically.
32 Burns, Jessie — “Notes On Foolish Gold” c. 1948[?]
33 Elkin, Ida — “America! Hear! And Heed!” (song) (inscribed), 1938 (published) 1942
34.1 Haggerty, George — “Bourgeouis Bitch” (poem) n.d.
34.2 Lehrman, Walter — “Square Dance Calling in the United States” (Marjorie Mazia’s copy[?]) n.d.
35.1 Libby, Fred — French-Canadian tales (as told to Woody Guthrie) 1952
35.2 Lowenfels, Walter — “Cathy Burns” (poem) n.d.
36 Richman, Jordan — “Have we made any progress?…” 1948
37 Van Kirk, Anneke — “Dream Thread” (photocopy) 1953
38 Van Kirk, Anneke — “Buoy Bells & Me” (poem) 1953
39 Van Kirk, Anneke — “A Treatise on My Opinion of John Jacob Niles” 1953
40 Van Kirk, Anneke[?] — letter re Woody Guthrie n.d.
41 Drawings (one with horse, possibly by Anneke Van Kirk; one drawing, apparently by a child) n.d.
42 Quotations, mainly from Harlan Miner Speaks n.d.


Note: The documents in this series appear to have been obtained by the Woody Guthrie Foundation from a variety of sources.  They are included in the Personal Papers record group for the convenience of researchers.The series consists of writings of Woody’s father, C.E. Guthrie (primarily anti-socialist tracts); portions of the 1929 Okemah, Oklahoma High School Yearbook; the Bonneville Power Administration’s personnel file on Woody Guthrie; portions of the F.B.I.’s extensive files on Guthrie; and an annotated listing of hardcover political books owned by Guthrie.
43 Guthrie, C.E. — Kumrids: A Discussion of Scientific Socialism (photocopy) 1912
44 Guthrie, C.E. — Procrastination Is The Thief of Time (photocopy) 1912
45 Guthrie, C.E. — “Salt Creek Obituary” n.d.
46 Okemah, Oklahoma High School Yearbook (photocopy) 1929
47 Bonneville Power Administration — personnel file (photocopy) [see also Harold Leventhal Subject File titled “Grand Coulee Dam/Bonneville” (unprocessed, except for correspondence located in Correspondence-3)] 1941
48 Federal Bureau of Investigation file (photocopy) 1941-71
49 Political Books Owned by Woody Guthrie (Hardcover) n.d.
50 Court Records 1949-1950
51 Cathy Guthrie’s Birth Certificate February 4, 1943