Rosskam and Woody Guthrie

Rosskam and Woody Guthrie

I spent most of the afternoon writing a bibliographic essay as a sample for my comp classes. I did it on the Rosskams, and as soon as I get the works cited page together I’ll post it. I’ve told the students that their survey need only be 3-4 pages, but of course I couldn’t survey these folks in less than six. At least it beats the 12 page bibliographic essay I used on views of the religious experience from someone else last semester!

Along the way, I discovered some other stuff that I wanted to preserve here, though they didn’t really factor into my essay. Searching the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress for “Rosskam” turned up a letter from Alan Lomax to Woody Guthrie recommending Edwin Rosskam as a good person to handle his autobiography. Which in turn, lead me to a short letter from Guthrie to Lomax which is permeated with the pragmatic point of view. Here’s a transcription of the part that got to me, as best as I can read the image:

I actually believe that most of us under all hard times did all sorts of wars and hungry spells have got just about the same idea about it all before we read a book or a newspaper and the thing for you to deliver and portray is what your head registers and what your ears hear and your nose smells and what your lips eat and when you disagree with books and papers or talk sermons you ought to find yourself a successful way of putting what you honestly believe into your shows. If you don’t like murder then don’t work for it and if you hate war then don’t show for it.

Of course, after I transcribed it, I found a transcription on the same LOC site. However, I think my reading of “lips eat” makes more sense than their transcription of “likes sat.”

But dammit Worldcat is down and I can’t figure out if Rosskam handled Guthrie’s autobiography. Checking the regular library catalogue, Bound for Glory was published by EP Dutton in 1943, so that means that chances are he didn’t&#8212 wrong publisher. Our library has a first edition though, I’ll have to check it out.