Notable People

written by Lynette Boone, University of Oregon

Names with an asterisk * indicate that the person appears in "Roll On Columbia: Woody Guthrie and the B.P.A." Others are mentioned in the video or play a key part in the circumstances of the times.

* Mary Boyle was married to Woody at the time he wrote the Columbia River songs. She and their three children Gwen, Sue, and Bill made the trip to Portland, Oregon with Woody and lived in Portland during the month he worked for the B.P.A. Mary and Woody separated after the job with the B.P.A. ended and she moved to El Paso, Texas to raise their children.

* Elmer Buehler was a Public Information employee of the Bonneville Power Administration's Public Affairs Office who was given the assignment of chauffeuring Woody Guthrie around the communities along the Columbia River to observe the building of the dams and to meet the people who lived there. During the y era, Buehler saved copies of the films "Hydro" and "The Columbia" which the Secretary of the Interior had ordered the B.P.A. to destroy.

* Norm Cohen has been writing about, teaching, and researching folk music for the past three and a half decades. Among his publications are: The Railroad in American Folksong, which has just appeared in a new, revised edition (2000), and Ozark Folksongs, an abridged and annotated edition (1982) of Vance. He has also edited numerous albums of folk and country music, including the grammy-nominated The Commercial Roots of Early Country Music.

Eisenhower, Dwight D. was president from 1953-1961. As a general, Eisenhower was the principal architect of the successful allied invasion of Europe during WWll. His presidency marked a political swing away from the liberalism of the Roosevelt administration toward a conservatism which favored private development of energy sources and an orientation that was sympathetic to business interests. Eisenhower's, Secretary of the Interior, Douglas McKay was a former Governor of Oregon and a proponent of private power. He ordered all copies of "Hydro" and "The Columbia" to be destroyed.

* Ramblin' Jack Elliott spent time with Woody Guthrie in the early 1950's at Greenwich Village picking sessions and became a good friend in the final years of Guthrie's life. Ramblin' Jack's own music continues to be strongly influenced by Guthrie.

Will Geer toured U.S. government work camps, singing with Guthrie in the 1930's. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Affairs. His six-decade acting career included Broadway, movies and television. His best known role was his last, grandpa Walton in the long-running television series, "The Waltons."

* Arlo Guthrie, Woody's oldest son from his second marriage to Marjorie Mazia, is a folksinger and songwriter in his own right, probably best known for his 1967 album titled Alice's Restaurant and his 1972 version of the hit song City of New Orleans.

* Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter from his marriage to Marjorie. Today, Nora Guthrie administers the Woody Guthrie foundation in New York City.

* Stephen Kahn was a graduate of the University of Oregon who attended graduate school in Washington D.C. and lobbied for the Bonneville Project Act. He later became the Bonneville Power Administration's first public information officer and hired Woody Guthrie to write songs to be used in promoting public control of Columbia River hydroelectric power in the region.

* Guy Logsdon is a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution and is considered the foremost scholar on the subject of Woody Guthrie. A fellow Oklahoman, he was Director of Libraries and Professor of American Folklife at the University of Tulsa until his retirement. Dr. Logsdon currently lectures and performs as "America's Senior Cowboy Song-Poetry Scholar," and has written extensively on the subject of western folklore.

Alan Lomax, the son of noted folklorist John Lomax, set out with his father in 1932 with a crude recording machine provided by the Library of congress to record folk musicians in the southeastern United States. In 1940 Lomax recorded Woody's favorite songs coupled with his spoken commentary and observations on the hard times of America in the 1930's.

Joseph McCarthy was a senator from Wisconsin. During the early 1950's McCarthy played on American fears of communist world domination and began a series of "witch hunts" in which Americans from all professions were arbitrarily singled out as possible Communists. They were then asked to testify before McCarthy and the Senate Internal Security or the House Un-American Activities committee. Those who refused to testify were cited for contempt and sent to prison. Even those who testified that they were not communists were not believed and people were often intimidated into naming others who were allegedly communist sympathizers. By 1954, McCarthy's unfair tactics came under the scrutiny of the senate and they eventually censured him.

* Daniel Pope is an associate professor of history at the University of Oregon specializing in United States business and economic history. He is currently working on a book for the Cambridge University Press on the history of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPS) nuclear projects.

Paul J. Raver became the second administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration in 1939 replacing Bonneville's popular activist leader J.D. Ross who had died suddenly in March of that year. During Raver's tenure, the regional power grid was constructed and he was effective in attracting industries such as aluminum plants to the Columbia. Dr. Raver was the administrator who gave final approval and signed Woody Guthrie's contract for temporary employment with the B.P.A.

Franklin Delanor Roosevelt (F.D.R) was president from 1933-1945. In 1933 the new president, brought an air of confidence and optimism to an America deeply troubled by the catastrophic events of the Great Depression. Roosevelt's New Deal programs used the federal government's authority in seeking bold, experimental remedies to the nation's economic and societal problems.

* Pete Seeger dropped out of Harvard to travel and play music throughout the country. He met Woody in the 1940's performing with him at union meetings and striker's demonstrations. Seeger co-founded The Weavers, a folk-group that attained commercial success despite being blacklisted. Seeger later hosted a television show and paved the way for younger folk artists such as Bob Dylan. Seeger continues to be one of the most notable and beloved folk music performers in the world.

* Studs Terkel broadcaster, oral historian and author has crossed the country for over two decades interviewing the American people on such topics as the Great Depression, World War ll, and their jobs, creating books that reveal their intimate portraits.