Woody Guthrie Birthplace, Okemah vicinity, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma

 Woodrow Wilson Guthrie
Singer-songwriter, Guitar, Vocal, Harmonica, Fiddle

Woody Guthrie Birthplace

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin'  -  I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side  .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Woody Guthrie Time Line

1912   July 14   Born in Okemah, Oklahoma.

1919  May  Death of older sister, Clara, in fire.

1927   Mother sent to Central State Hospital for the Insane in Norman, Oklahoma.

1929   Joined father and extended family in Pampa, Texas; focused on learning to play guitar and harmonica.

1930   Death of mother.

1933   Married Mary Jennings, Pampa, Texas (later divorced).

1935   Prepared typed songbook of original songs, "Alonzo M. Zilch's Own Collection of Original Songs and Ballads." April  Began to compose songs about the Dust Bowl following the Great Dust Storm.

1937   Moved to Los Angeles, California; began performing on radio station KFVD.

1938  Summer  Traveled to investigate the living and working conditions of the migrant workers on assignment for The Light newspaper; wrote "Dust Bowl Refugees."

1939   Began writing "Woody Sez" column in People's World. Met actor Will Geer and began traveling with him to migrant camps to perform.

1940  January-February  Moved to New York City; wrote "This Land Is Your Land" in reaction to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America."  March  Performed at "Grapes of Wrath Evening," organized by Will Geer to benefit the John Steinbeck Committee for Agricultural Workers; met Alan and Elizabeth Lomax, director Nicholas Ray, and folk singers Aunt Molly Jackson, Leadbelly, and Pete Seeger. Recorded four hours of songs and stories for the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song in the Department of the Interior recording lab. Began to write autobiographical novel, Bound for Glory. Spring-Summer  Began to appear on CBS radio programs. Recorded Dust Bowl Ballads for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey (released in July).

1941  May  Commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior to write songs promoting the building of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River in Washington state; composed twenty-six songs in thirty days. Summer  Joined the Almanac Singers in New York for cross-country summer tour; recorded Deep Sea Chanteys and Whaling Ballads and Sod-buster Ballads with the Almanacs for General Records. Fall  Moved to Greenwich Village, living and performing with the Almanac Singers. December  In the wake of Pearl Harbor, began writing pro-war songs with the Almanac Singers.

1942  Spring  Narrated and played music for Folksay modern dance, choreographed by Sophie Maslow and featuring Marjorie Mazia as a dancer. Signed contract with E. P. Dutton publishing house for book. Began dating Marjorie Mazia.

1943  March  Bound for Glory published (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.). June  Joined the Merchant Marine; shipped out on first of three voyages with Cisco Houston and Jimmy Longhi. November  Returned to New York; moved to 3520 Mermaid Avenue, Coney Island.

1944  April  Met Moses (Moe) Asch and began to record in his studio in New York: the first recording of "This Land Is Your Land" and well over one hundred other songs.

1945  March  Released album of recordings made for Moe Asch through collaboration with Herbert Harris's Stinson Trading Company. May  Inducted into the Army. November  Married Marjorie in New York while on furlough (divorced July 1953). December  Discharged from the Army.

1946   Began writing children's songs and recording them for Moe Asch's label. Named to the board of directors of the newly formed People's Songs collective.

1947  February  Death of his and Marjorie's daughter Cathy Ann in fire.

1950   The Weavers (Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Pete Seeger) recorded Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You." Music publisher Howie Richmond offered to publish and promote more of Guthrie's songs.

1952  September  Diagnosed with Huntington's Chorea. October  Moved to Topanga Canyon, California; met Anneke Van Kirk Marshall.

1953  December  Married Anneke Van Kirk (divorced summer 1956); returned to New York.

1954  April  Pete Seeger began touring college campuses, introducing Guthrie's songs to new audiences.
September  Checked into Brooklyn State Hospital.

1956   Launch of Guthrie Children's Trust Fund: Pete Seeger, Harold Leventhal, and Lou Gordon served as trustees overseeing Woody's estate, with Arlo, Joady, and Nora (Woody and Marjorie's children) as beneficiaries. March  Benefit concert for Guthrie Children's Trust Fund held at Pythian Hall in New York. May  Voluntarily checked out of Brooklyn State Hospital. Involuntarily checked into Greystone Park in Morris Plains, New Jersey.

1958   Kingston Trio scored popular success with folk ballad "Tom Dooley," signaling the beginning of an urban folk revival.

1959   Bob and Sidsel Gleason began hosting Guthrie in their home in East Orange, New Jersey, every Sunday; folksingers gathered to play and pay homage.

1961  January  Visited by Bob Dylan. Spring  Transferred to Brooklyn State Hospital.

1964   Release of 1940 Library of Congress recordings as three-record set on Elektra (New York: EKL-271/272).

1965   Publication of Born to Win, a collection of writings (New York: Macmillan).

1966  April  Commended by U.S. Department of the Interior for Columbia River songs, presented with Conservation Service Award, and honored by having substation of Bonneville Power Authority named for him.

1967  Committee to Combat Huntington's Disease (CCHD) formed by Marjorie Guthrie.

Woody Guthrie Died on October 3, 1967 (aged 55) in New York City, New York.


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