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What the FBI had on Pete Seeger (and Visa Versa)

From the 1930s through the 1960s, the FBI, the CIA, and other agencies conducted surveillance on folk musicians and folklorists organizing folksong revivals. As a result of a successful lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act, it is now possible to see the extent of that surveillance, and how it affected the fields of folklore and oral history. It is no understatement to say that the FBI, and its director, J. Edgar Hoover, did not like folk music or its singers. Over and over again, agents were sent to spy on hootenannies with the explicit intention of disrupting them. In fact, we now know that the US intelligence community mounted a sort of “Hootenanny Squad” to disrupt and suppress those they identified as perfidious banjo-pluckers and guitar-players. After a six-year battle with the FBI, David Dunaway finally succeeded in having hundreds of documents declassified. In this presentation, he will reveal the “secrets” the FBI collected and how American folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger led the way in triumphing over their efforts. We’ll end the evening with a “Sing Along with Pete” (through his recordings). Bring a healthy skepticism for government investigations of the arts, and your singing voice. This program is co-sponsored by the Stanford American Studies Program and Stanford Continuing Studies. David King Dunaway, Professor of English, University of New Mexico
David King Dunaway received a PhD in American Studies from UC Berkeley. He is the author and editor of ten books, including biographies of Pete Seeger (How Can I Keep from Singing) and Aldous Huxley. His documentaries for NPR and PRI have aired on hundreds of stations nationally and internationally.



Thursday, October 13, 2016. 07:30 PM


Cubberley Auditorium


American Studies Program, Continuing Studies




Free; no advance registration required.