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.

WGAPersonalPapers_122Collection 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, 2033.

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 members1944
02Correspondence re application for discharge1990
03Certificate of Release or Discharge; Honorable Discharge1990
04Certificate of Service, B. Military service1990
05Correspondence with Selective Service System1943-44
06Induction Notice; memo re Classification Section interview1943-44
071262nd S.C.U. News Digest, Fort Dix, New Jersey(to be moved to oversize box)1945
08Newspapers — Sheppard Field Texacts;Scott Field Broadcaster (to be moved to oversize box)1945
09transfer from Sheppard Field, Texas to Scott Field, Illinois1945
10Scott Field — notes re various subjects (to be moved to oversize box)1945
11Scott Field — teletype notes, messages, forms (to be moved to oversize box)1945
12Scott Field — Army teletype memoranda1945
13Scott Field — letters from Suggestion Committee1945
14Drawings (Scott Field[?])1945
16Publication — “The GI Bill of Rights”1945
17Separation from service1946
18Official Records envelope1946
19Certificate of Appreciation for War Service1946
20Army Papers folderc. 1945-46[?]
C. Military benefits
21Dependency Benefits — application and data sheet1945
22National Service Life Insurance1945-53, n.d.
23Army Finance Center Adjustment Division – re payments to Mary E. Guthrie, Woody Guthrie1947
24Veterans 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
26folder titled “Contracts – Copyrights – Etc – Royalties”n.d.
27Royalty statements, contract, and related material (from folder titled “Papers”)1946-56
28folder titled “Papers”n.d.
29note to “M & P” re copyrighting songsc. 1942
30“Things They Said About Woody Guthrie All Along”c. 1947
31Stone Crest Day Camp, Bethlehem, NH1948
32Receipt for guitar1952
B. Scripts
33Radio script — The Chisholm Trail: A Ballad Opera of the Old West by Elizabeth Lomax (item appears to be Cisco Houston’s copy)1944
34Radio script — Hootenanny of the Air, by Alan Lomaxc. 1949
35Radio script — Hootenanny of the Air, by Alan Lomax (with Woody Guthrie annotations)c. 1949
36Songs for Oscar Brand radio program, WNYC1950
37Script of BBC program of Scottish ballads collected by Alan Lomax1951
38Script — “Folksay” (Sophie Maslow dance)n.d.
39The Song of the Gypsy Dave by John J. Greenwayn.d.
C. Notes, schedules, lists
40Almanac Singers — notes and schedules1941
41Songsheet from Westinghouse strike, Hamilton, Ontario1946
42Song listc. 1946[?]
43notes re Peoples Artists meeting1947
44List of songs for Progressive Citizens of America party1948
45Song list — “V.D. – Ideas”1949[?]
46“Juke Box Songs to Fight Syphilis”, New York Daily News (photocopy)1949
47Names for Marjorie & Woody’s Kids Partiesn.d.
48Song lists and notes re: children’s songsn.d.
49Assorted notes and song lists, mainly re: children’s songs, firesn.d.
50Song list — “W & T”n.d.
51Song lists, lyricsn.d.
52announcement of People’s Songs furniture partyn.d.
53Earl Robinson — comments on Woody Guthrie songs (with Guthrie annotations); folder also contains Guthrie song lists and notesn.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.
1.1Rent and utility receipts, 74 Charles Street, New York City1942-43
1.2“Woody’s Little Memo” — Marjorie Mazia’s list of activities and remindersc. 1942
1.3note from Marjorie Mazia to “Ruth” (Cathy Guthrie’s babysitter)c. 1943-47
1.4Gwen Guthrie school assignment — “A Friendly Letter”1947
2Arlo Guthrie’s nicknames1948
0Jack Guthrie Memorial Folio1950
4.1note re “grape juice”, Arlo (also, notes re books)1951
4.2Building Permit, 1618-24 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn, New York1951
5notes 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
6newspaper 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
7The New Jersey State Hospital at Greystone Park folder cover (photocopy; original located in oversize box) (photocopy; original located in oversize box)1956-61
8Commitment proceedings, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Morris County, New Jersey1956
9Medical Staff Record; Admission Notes; Case History1956-61
10Photographic Record (photocopy;original moved to photographs)1956
11Doctor’s Order Sheet; Clinical Record1956
12Doctor’s Order Sheets; Clinical Record1956-60
13X-Ray Requisition; Pathological Laboratory Reports1956-59
14Change of Diagnosis1957
15Medication Lists1957-61
16Telephone and Telegram Messages1957-58
17Occupational Therapy Progress Note1959
18Accident Report1960
19Discharge records1956-61
27“Information for Patients and Their Families”n.d.
28envelope, with markings by Woody Guthrie1957
29Greystone Park — receipts1959-60
Creedmoor State Hospital
30Notification of Admission1966
31Marjorie Mazia’s notes re Woody Guthrie’s healthn.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.
32Burns, Jessie — “Notes On Foolish Gold”c. 1948[?]
33Elkin, Ida — “America! Hear! And Heed!” (song) (inscribed), 1938 (published)1942
34.1Haggerty, George — “Bourgeouis Bitch” (poem)n.d.
34.2Lehrman, Walter — “Square Dance Calling in the United States” (Marjorie Mazia’s copy[?])n.d.
35.1Libby, Fred — French-Canadian tales (as told to Woody Guthrie)1952
35.2Lowenfels, Walter — “Cathy Burns” (poem)n.d.
36Richman, Jordan — “Have we made any progress?…”1948
37Van Kirk, Anneke — “Dream Thread” (photocopy)1953
38Van Kirk, Anneke — “Buoy Bells & Me” (poem)1953
39Van Kirk, Anneke — “A Treatise on My Opinion of John Jacob Niles”1953
40Van Kirk, Anneke[?] — letter re Woody Guthrien.d.
41Drawings (one with horse, possibly by Anneke Van Kirk; one drawing, apparently by a child)n.d.
42Quotations, mainly from Harlan Miner Speaksn.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.
43Guthrie, C.E. — Kumrids: A Discussion of Scientific Socialism (photocopy)1912
44Guthrie, C.E. — Procrastination Is The Thief of Time (photocopy)1912
45Guthrie, C.E. — “Salt Creek Obituary”n.d.
46Okemah, Oklahoma High School Yearbook (photocopy)1929
47Bonneville 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
48Federal Bureau of Investigation file (photocopy)1941-71
49Political Books Owned by Woody Guthrie (Hardcover)n.d.
50Court Records1949-1950
51Cathy Guthrie’s Birth CertificateFebruary 4, 1943