Some of the most prominent folk singers of the twentieth century, including Woody Guthrie, ‘Sis Cunningham, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Burl Ives, etc., were also political activists with various associations with the American Communist Party. As a consequence, the FBI, along with other governmental and right-wing organizations, were monitoring them, keeping meticulous files running many thousands of pages, and making (and carrying out) plans to purge them from the cultural realm.
In The Folk Singers and the Bureau, Aaron J Leonard draws on an unprecedented array of declassified documents and never before released files to shed light on the interplay between left-wing folk artists and their relationship with the American Communist Party, and how it
put them in the US government’s repressive cross hairs.
At a time of increasing state surveillance and repression, The Folk Singers and the Bureau shows how the FBI and other governmental agencies have attempted to shape and repress American culture.