Cover image for American folk music and left-wing politics, 1927-1957
American folk music and left-wing politics, 1927-1957
Reuss, Richard A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xviii, 297 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3918.F65 R48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The 1930s and 1940s represented an era in United States history when large groups of citizens took political action in response to their social and economic circumstances. The vision, attitudes, beliefs and purposes of participants before, during, and after this time period played an important part of American cultural history. Richard and JoAnne Reuss expertly capture the personality of this era and the fascinating chronology of events in American Folk Music and Left-Wing Politics, 1927-1957, a historical analysis of singers, writers, union members and organizers and their connection to left-wing politics and folk music during this revolutionary time period. While scholarship on folk music, history, and politics is not unique in and of itself, Reuss' approach is noteworthy for its folklorist perspective and its long, encompassing assessment of a broad cross-section of participants and their interactions. An innovative and informative look into one of the most evocative and challenging eras in American history, American Folk Music and Left-Wing Politics, 1927-1957 stands as a historic milestone in this period's scholarship and evolution.

Author Notes

JoAnne C. Reuss is currently a research administrator at the University of Michigan.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

At long last Richard Reuss's seminal study of this important era in folk music is available in book form. For 30 years, scholars and those interested in the use of folk music as a vehicle for social protest have had to consult Reuss's legendary study in dissertation form (1971). Now his wife, a student of folklore, has brought Reuss's work up to date, weaving the most recent scholarship into his magnificent study of an important aspect of US culture. She has performed an important task and has done it exceedingly well. The book is a goldmine of names, places, songs, and events surrounding the various protest movements in the US from the late 1920s through the end of the '50s--from the textile strikes, to the New York Composers Collective, to The Almanac Singers, to People's Songs, to the Peekskill riots, to Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, to the People's Artists. An excellent bibliography and index add to the immense value of this work, which belongs on the shelf with Robbie Lieberman's "My Song Is My Weapon": People's Songs, American Communism, and the Politics of Culture, 1930-1950 (CH, Dec'89) and Archie Green's studies of US workers and their songs. Recommended for all collections. C. W. Henderson Saint Mary's College (IN)

Table of Contents

Editor's Forewordp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Introductionp. 1
1. Politics and Folklorep. 15
2. Early Marxism and Folklorep. 25
3. The Communist Search for a Proletarian Music Culturep. 39
4. The Growth of Communist Interest in Folklorep. 57
5. Communist Encounters with American Unionsp. 81
6. Communist "Folk" Culture and the Popular Frontp. 115
7. The Almanac Singers: Proletarian "Folk" Culture in Microcosmp. 147
8. People's Songs, Inc.: Proletarian "Folk" Culture in Microcosmp. 179
9. People's Artists and the Decline of the American Communist Partyp. 221
10. The Folk Music Legacy of the American Communist Movementp. 265
Sourcesp. 275
Indexp. 283
About the Authorsp. 297