Songs and Poems

Union Maid

Song. By Woody Guthrie. 1940. A union song written by Woody Guthrie in response to a request for a union song from a female point of view.
Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing

“Union Maid” is a union song written by Woody Guthrie in response to a request for a union song from a female point of view. Along with “Talking Union,” this song was one of the many pro-union songs written by Guthrie during his time as a member of the Almanac Singers. Another member, Pete Seeger wrote:

“I’m proud to say I was present when ‘Union Maid’ was written in June, 1940, in the plain little office of the Oklahoma City Communist Party. Bob Wood, local organizer, had asked Woody Guthrie and me to sing there the night before for a small group of striking oil workers. Early next morning, Woody got to the typewriter and hammered out the first two verses of ‘Union Maid’ set to a European tune that Robert Schumann arranged for piano (‘The Merry Farmer’) back in the early 1800s. Of course, it’s the chorus that really makes it — its tune, ‘Red Wing,’ was copyrighted early in the 1900s.”

The song’s final verse, on women’s role in unions was written later by Lampell and other Almanac members. It implores ladies to marry a “Union Man” and be a good “Union Wife.” In performance, this verse has been adapted over the years or dropped altogether. [Description from Wikipedia.]

There once was a union maid

She never was afraid

Of goons and ginks and company finks

And the deputy sheriffs who made the raid

She went to the union hall

When a meeting it was called

And when the company boys came round

She always stood her ground

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One comment on “Union Maid

  1. Peter Miller on

    I know some people have written new verses for their own actions. (Graduate assistants, in particular.) If you have any new verses, I think this would be a great place to post them. I’m looking for teacher verses at the moment.

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