The Lee Hays papers measures 7.85 cubic feet and dates from 1923 to 1981. The collection includes original writings, correspondence, and miscellaneous projects by Lee Hays; business records, interviews and features related to Lee Hays, including photographs; clippings saved by Lee Hays; and audiorecordings made by Lee Hays.
Scope and Contents:
The Lee Hays papers, which date from 1923-1981, contain personal and business correspondence; typescripts of Lee Hays' fiction, non-fiction, scripts and poetry; miscellaneous project and idea materials; business documents; and audiorecordings made by Lee Hays. The collection measures 7.85 cubic feet.
The Lee Hays papers, are divided into seven series: 1) Correspondence, 2) Business, 3) Projects and Writings, 4) Collected Texts, 5) Interviews, 6) Features on Lee Hays and 7) Audio Recordings.
The Correspondence Series is divided into two subseries: 1) Personal, and 2) Business.
The Projects and Writings series is divided into six subseries: 1) Songs, 2) Non-Fiction, 3) Fiction, 4) Musical Productions, 5) Radio Scripts, and 6) Cisco Houston Project.
When possible, folders are arranged within series and subseries in alphabetical order by file title, and within folders in chronological order with undated items at the top.
Biographical / Historical:
Lee Hays (1914-1981) was an influential American singer, songwriter, author, and activist. His legacy, both literary and musical, emphasizes the dynamic relationship between traditional culture and contemporary events and issues. As is clear from his essay "The Folk Song Bridge", Hays conceived of "folk music" as a living, breathing "process". Born in Arkansas in 1914 to a Methodist preacher, Hays' first experiences with music revolved around the church. His political awakening came later, when he returned to Arkansas from Ohio in 1934. Under the wing of mentors such as Claude Williams and Zilphia Horton (maiden name: Zilphia Johnson), Hays began to fight for the cause of sharecroppers and union workers. His musical ability and passion for social justice came together as he used music to represent the voice of labor, replacing the religious motifs of traditional and gospel songs with pro-union themes.
Upon moving to the North in 1940, Hays met Pete Seeger, another musician of the Folk Revival. Hays and Seeger shared the common goal of spreading political topical songs, and their collaborations with Woody Guthrie and Millard Lampell led to the creation of the Almanac Singers the same year. Later, the four band members, along with other musicians such as Burl Ives and Sis Cunningham, established the People's Songs organization and publication to create and distribute labor songs. However, interpersonal conflicts with members, including Pete Seeger, led to Hays' pressured resignation from both of these endeavors. He moved in with his mentor, Walter Lowenfels, and began to focus more on his writing. Though Hays was a prolific writer whose work spanned articles, essays, short stories, poetry, and songs, he is rarely recognized for his literary achievement. His writing often centered on the social and political themes for which he is best known—labor rights, racism, poverty and inequality—and used vernacular culture and narrative to address those problems.
Seeger and Hays eventually made amends, and in 1948 they formed The Weavers with Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert, bringing music of the Folk Revival to a national audience. However, as the Red Scare impacted the American political climate into the 1950s, the Weavers were blacklisted and ultimately had to disband. Though he was under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and had no steady income, Hays continued to write both fiction and non-fiction during the three year blacklisting. In 1955, the Weavers finally reunited for a highly successful revival under manager Harold C. Leventhal, but as years passed, the group split up again, and Hays began to focus on other projects. It was at this time that he produced the bulk of his memoirs, began a project on Cisco Houston, and recorded folk music for children with his group The Baby Sitters. In 1980, the Weavers reunited for a concert in Carnegie Hall and Hays' last performance with them was in 1981. Hays died in 1981 as a result of diabetic cardiovascular disease.
The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acquired the "Lee Hays Archives" in 1992 as a donation from Harold C. Leventhal and Doris Kaplan, who acquired the collection upon Lee Hays' death in 1981. The donation included materials produced by Lee Hays, as well as materials of interest to him that were found in his possession.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at (202) 633-7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
This collection has been digitized and a majority of its content has been made available online for research and educational purposes. Online access to select materials is not available due to privacy or rights concerns.
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Restrictions may apply concerning the use, duplication, or publication of items in these collections. Consult the archivists for additional information.
Political ballads and songs -- United States Search this
34.28 Cubic feet (3 record boxes of business records; 8 record boxes, including 374 non-master audio reels (10", 7", 5", 4" and 2" reels); 160 10" reels in open stacks; 4 record boxes, including 853 audio cassettes; 1 record box, including 36 video cassettes; and 491 long play records, 45s and compact discs.)
Digital audio tapes
Vhs (videotape format)
This collection documents the activities of Joe Glazer's record label Collector Records. Materials include the label's original commercial recordings, paper records related to day-to-day business operations and production, field recordings made by Joe Glazer, and Glazer's personal music collection.
Scope and Contents:
The Collector Records business records, measuring 34.28 cubic feet, date from 1937-2004 and contain materials relating to founder Joe Glazer's work with the label, as well as his work as a participant in the labor movement.
The records include papers documenting the promotion, production, and business operations of Collector Records; original audiorecordings used for Collector Records masters; audiorecordings made in the field by Joe Glazer; video recordings of performances by and interviews with Joe Glazer, including performances at labor union events; audiorecordings of interviews with Joe Glazer; Collector Records recordings and releases; and Glazer's personal commercial music collection.
Records are arranged in 7 series:
Series 1: Promotional, Performance, and Record Planning Materials, 1971-2004
Series 2: Financial and Administrative Records, 1966-2003
Series 3: Open-reel Audiorecordings, 1937-1990
Series 4: Cassette Audiorecordings, 1949-2002
Series 5: Video Recordings, 1984-2004
Series 6: Digital Audio Tape (DAT) Audiorecordings, 1982-1994
Series 7: Published Audiorecordings
Biographical / Historical:
Since the Industrial Revolution, working people have been organizing and campaigning for better treatment from their employers. The labor movement and its unions struggle for fair wages, safe working conditions, and many other benefits. Music is an important tool in the labor movement to motivate workers and help build solidarity. Labor songs detail political issues, glorify martyrs and heroes in the movement, and, most of all, inspire and uplift workers.
Joe Glazer (1918-2006), often called "Labor's Troubadour," spent a lifetime as one of America's noted historians of labor song. His booming baritone and exuberant guitar have performed for millions of workers, strikers, and students. He was the author of several significant labor songs, notably "The Mill Was Made of Marble," which is a commentary on the need for cleaner, safer mill conditions for textile workers. In addition to his performing, he was employed by the United Rubber Workers, the Textile Workers Union of America, and the United States Information Agency over the course of his career.
Glazer founded Collector Records in 1970 to distribute his own recordings of labor songs and those of younger and newer performers he had met through his work—many of them through the Labor Heritage Foundation, which he founded in 1978, and its yearly Great Labor Arts Exchange. Some artists, such as Bobbie McGee, went on to become well-known folk singers, but many Collector artists remained at their jobs. Eddie Starr (1956-2003) was a third-generation Illinois steelworker who declined a life on the road as a rock musician, and took a factory job at home to support his family. Kenny Winfree was a textile worker when Glazer heard his bluegrass-style labor songs. He continues to work, now at an aircraft plant in Texas, where he is an active member of UAW Local 848.
Collector Records paints a clear picture of workers' struggles. Songs depict everyday hazards and ailments encountered on the job, allowing workers to express their situation and make audiences aware of their plight. "Cotton Mill Colic" is a classic folk song written in 1926 by David McCarn, a textile mill worker in North Carolina that describes the harsh conditions and low pay of mill-working life. The steelworker in "Corrido Minero" sings about the ever-present danger of working in a mine with outdated equipment. Newer workplace issues are expressed in labor songs as well. The worker in John O'Connor's song suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, one of the most frequent of modern workplace afflictions, occurring among those who perform a great deal of computer data entry and causing extreme pain in the hands and arms.
Collector Records Business Records is a historic collection presenting music to inspire and motivate working people. The Glazer family donated the label's recordings, along with Glazer's original song and narrative recordings, business records, and personal commercial music collection to the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in 2006.
The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections acquired the Collector Records business records in 2006 through a donation by the Glazer family.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at email@example.com or (202) 633-7322 for additional information.
Restrictions may apply concerning the use, duplication, or publication of items in the Collector Records business records. Please consult the archivists for additional information about the materials and their use.
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for information.