History

The Spirit of Camp Woodland

An exhibition presented by the Historical Society of Woodstock, New York, 2010
Pete Seeger at Camp Woodland, Phoenicia, New York, circa 1940s


Curated by Weston Blelock and Letitia Smith

Camp Woodland, 1939-1962, was located in Woodland Valley outside of Phoenicia, New York —about 20 miles from Woodstock. Camp Woodland evolved out of the New Deal programs that provided work for artists and was shaped by the progressive movement in education. A folk music incubator, Camp Woodland “honored the past, understood the importance of old traditions and cultures and the need to preserve and learn from them.”  From the beginning, the camp set out to collect the folk songs, lore, and history of the Catskill Mountains.


Pete Seeger at Camp Woodland, Phoenicia, New York, circa 1940s

We are grateful to the University of Albany Libraries for access to the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, with special thanks to Mark Wolfe, Curator of Digital Collections, for his assistance in locating specific documents and images (including the photo of Pete Seeger above).

Just as there is a Hudson River School of Painting, whose artists like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and Jasper Cropsey sought to capture and preserve an idyllic view of the Hudson River Valley, so too is there a lesser known, unofficial Hudson River School of Folk Music, among which Pete Seeger, Eric Weissberg, and Joe Hickerson can be counted as some of its students. Like those painters who created sweeping vistas of Catskill Mountain landscapes and majestic views of Hudson River scenes, they too are creating an image with lyrics and melodies of the lives and stories of the people who dwelled and settled in this region long ago.

Their songs range from those sung by the first European settlers and pioneers to the ballads made up about battles and events of the Revolutionary War; from the shanties of sloop captains, canalers, and steamboat pilots, to the music of the farms, lumber camps and bluestone quarries; from the songs of hobos, tramps, and those who rode the rails, collected by FDR’s WPA Project, to the current environmental movement, and the new songs being sung by those affiliated with the sloop Clearwater.
(Heritage Folk Music web site)

Events

Folksongs of the Catskills – the Spirit of Camp Woodland
Historical Society of Woodstock - exhibition
Saturdays and Sundays, July 31  -  Sunday, September 12, 1-5 pm
opening reception, Saturday, July 31, 1-5 p.m.  Free and open to the public
Eames House, 20 Comeau Drive, Woostock, NY

Folksongs of the Catskills – the Spirit of Camp Woodland
Historical Society of Woodstock - 'On the Porch Series'
Presentation with folk music - Pat Lamanna and Sue Rosenberg, former Woodland campers
Saturday, August 14, 2-4 p.m.  Free and open to the public
Eames House, 20 Comeau Drive, Woostock, NY

Joe Hickerson, noted folksinger and folklorist, (and friends) will be at the Eames House, 20 Comeau Drive, Woodstock, NY on August 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.  


Joe Hickerson, an alumni of Camp Woodland, has performed throughout the U.S.A. and in Canada, Finland, and Ukraine. His repertoire includes a vast array of folksongs, many with choruses. Pete Seeger has called him "a great songleader." Joe calls himself a "vintage pre-plugged paleo-acoustic folksinger." In 1960 he wrote the 4th and 5th verses of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." He has recordings on the Folk-Legacy and Folkways labels, ranging from 1957 to 2003.  Joe also has a career as a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, and librarian; For 35 years (1963-1998) he was Librarian and Director of the Archive of Folk Song/Culture at the Library of Congress. He lectures and writes on a variety of folk music topics, and is available for song and copyright researches.

This will be something of a homecoming for Joe. In August 1960 he performed with Carolyn Hester at the Woodstock Playhouse. Also, on the bill will be Mickey Vandow, Pat Lamanna and others. Expect rousing sing-alongs on many old favorites. 

Joe Hickerson - Sunday, August 15, 3-5 p.m., Kiersted House, Main Street, Saugerties, NY $8.00
Presented by Heritage Folk Music - heritagefolkmusic@gmail.com
  http://picasaweb.google.com/Letitia.Smith/Movies#

Historical Society of Woodstock - 'On the Porch Series'
From Camp Woodland to the Woodstock Music Festival and Beyond: Counter Cultures in the Struggle for Social Justice in the United States.From Camp Woodland to the Woodstock Music Festival  and Beyond: Counter Cultures in the Struggle for Social Justice in the United States.
Sunday, September 12, 2-4 p.m.
Paul Mishler, Associate Professor of Labor Studies, Indianna University South Bend, will give a talk connecting Camp Woodland to Woodstock 1969.


Paul Mishler is Associate Professor of Labor Studies at Indiana University South Bend and was a labor educator in New York City before coming to Indianna University in 2002. His past research projects have led to publications on the history of social justice movements in the U.S. He is now working on a documentary history of the relationship between the labor movement and broader social reform activities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mishler is especially concerned with economic class biases in education and the relationship between labor's struggles and the struggles against racism and sexism. His book, Raising Reds (Columbia, 1988) examined the efforts by American Communists to create an alternative culture for children during the period from the 1920s through the 1950s particularly the variety of children’s summer camps created during this period. He has also written on American radical movements and on issues facing the labor movement today. He has worked as a historian and labor educator in New York, and now in Indiana


Eames House, 20 Comeau Drive, Woostock, NY  Free and open to the public.



The Historical Society of Woodstock gratefully acknowledges support from