2012: Woody Guthrie Centennial

Born on July 14, 1912, activist folksinger Woody Guthrie’s centennial is in full swing across the country.

His family and historians developed a website to make sure that his life and work are honored and can continue to inspire another generation.

Not to be missed is the two part Democracy Now! commemoration (July 4 and July 12). Democracy Now! noted, “Guthrie wrote hundreds of folk songs and became a major influence on countless musicians, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, and Phil Ochs. While Guthrie is best remembered as a musician, he also had a deeply political side, speaking out for labor and civil rights at the height of McCarthyism.”

The July 12 Democracy Now! program featured Guthrie’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, author of the book My Name Is New York: Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town; his granddaughter Anna Canoni; and musician Steve Earle. They shared stories from Guthrie’s family life and his time in New York City, where he lived from 1940 until his death in 1967 after a long battle with Huntington’s disease.
Guthrie’s songs not only inspire but they also share lessons about history. For example, historian Howard Zinn credited Woody Guthrie for introducing him to a vital event in labor history through his song the Ludlow Massacre. As Zinn explained in this clip from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, the Ludlow Massacre was a story “which nobody had ever mentioned in any of my history courses, which no textbook of mine had ever mentioned.”
Related Resources
Given Woody Guthrie’s dedication to the rights of workers, it is fitting that 2012 is also the 100th anniversary of the historic Bread and Roses Strike. Woody Guthrie poster by Robert Shetterly/Americans Who Tell the Truth.

Woodie Guthrie,1943 | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940-1950 at the Library of Congress.

Woody Guthrie Website | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's HistoryThe official Woody Guthrie website offers a treasure trove of lyrics, primary documents, and news that can be used in the classroom.


You can find other resources about Woody Guthrie on the Zinn Education Project website.

Send us an email to let us know how you teach about Woody Guthrie’s life and songs in your classroom.



Share a story, question, or resource from your classroom.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *