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Friday, May 30, 2014

Spending the Summer with Uncle Lee

Since we've wrapped up scanning the Cook Labs Records, we've moved on to digitizing another gem of a collection: the Lee Hays Papers. This collection represents a small departure from our past digitization projects, which have focused on the papers of three different record labels (Folkways, Cook Labs, and Paredon). The Lee Hays Papers contain materials of a more personal nature--Lee was an instrumental figure in the early folk revival, as well as a passionate labor activist and prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction. He was also a founding member of the influential musical groups the Almanac Singers and the Weavers, where he sang bass and wrote songs alongside the likes of Pete Seeger, Cisco Houston, Josh White, Sis Cunningham,Woody Guthrie, Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert, among many others. In making our way through the rich correspondence held in the collection, there is such a common thread of brotherhood between Lee and his many correspondents, it makes the material a joy to work through. It seems as if Lee was an honorary part of many families, so of course, there are times when tensions bubble over between him and the people close to him. The papers are intimate and human, and a true treasure trove for researchers.

To celebrate beginning this digitization project, as well as the coming summer months, here are a couple warm-weather highlights from the Pete Seeger correspondence.

Toshi Seeger, undated. Lee Hays Papers, Hays_01_02_001. Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

Postcard from Tao Seeger, written by Toshi Seeger, 15 March 1978. Lee Hays Papers, Hays_01_02_001. Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

Look for more highlights from this collection as we continue to digitize it this summer.

Cecilia Peterson
Digitization Archivist
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

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