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Loyola University New Orleans Researchers Help Preserve Woody Guthrie Interviews with Transcription Project

Loyola press release - January 7, 2016

The Department of History and the Documentary and Oral History Studio of Loyola University New Orleans are proud to announce a new collaborative research partnership with the Woody Guthrie Center and the Woody Guthrie Archives of Tulsa, Okla. Collaborating student and faculty researchers from Loyola’s Department of History will transcribe a collection of interviews with the late American singer-songwriter to help preserve them and make them more easily accessible to researchers.

The Guthrie Archives' extensive collection of tape-recorded interviews conducted by journalist Joe Klein in the 1970s is now available only in audio format. Klein used these interviews extensively in his seminal biography Woody Guthrie: A Life. Student workers in Loyola’s Documentary and Oral History Studio will transcribe the interviews using the studio’s state-of-the-art transcription software. All research transcription will be completed under the direction of Loyola New Orleans’ Patricia Carlin O'Keefe Distinguished Professor of History Dr. Mark Fernandez and Dr. Justin A. Nystrom, assistant professor of history and director of the studio.

“I’m grateful to be part of this project that will make accessing these resources immeasurably easier,” Fernandez said. “Transcriptions allow wider access to all researchers, help preserve the interviews in another medium, and greatly shorten the time it takes to work with the interviews, as reading them takes much less time than listening to each one.”

The print and digital transcriptions will be used by Dr. Fernandez to support his ongoing scholarly research on Woody Guthrie's life and will be made available to researchers at the Woody Guthrie Archives.

Guthrie, who penned “This Land Is Your Land,” and thousands of political, traditional, folk and children’s songs, ballads and other works during his lifetime, provided both a musical and historical legacy through his work, which often reflected his experiences during the Dust Bowl era of the Great Depression and has inspired songwriters and musicians for generations.

The Woody Guthrie Center and Archives is an educational facility dedicated to preserving Guthrie's body of work and celebrating his life and the continuation of his legacy. The center provides resources to students, teachers and academics about Guthrie’s role in American history and his advocacy for social justice.

“The Woody Guthrie Center is honored to be partnering with Dr. Fernandez and Loyola University on this important project,” said Deana McCloud, executive director of the Woody Guthrie Center. “The transcriptions of these historical recordings will benefit researchers immensely and provide a wealth of information about Woody’s life and legacy to all of our guests."

Partial funding for the project comes from the Patricia Carlin O'Keefe Distinguished Professorship at Loyola New Orleans, which was designed to support collaborative research between Loyola professors and students.

For more information about this project or the Documentary and Oral History Studio at Loyola, contact Mark Fernandez in the Department of History at mffernan@loyno.edu or (504) 856-2565.