The Bureau & the Folk Singers

Aaron Leonard
Music / History

Course Description

Some of the most prominent folk singers of the twentieth century, 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. Using music, video selections, news clippings, and records from extensive Freedom of Information Act filings — including never before released material — the course will bring to life these artists and the systematic way they were subject to government surveillance and suppression.

About the Instructor

  • Aaron Leonard is the author of two pathbreaking books on FBI activity in the 1960s-70s period; Heavy Radicals: The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists and A Threat of the First Magnitude: FBI Counterintelligence & Infiltration: From the Communist Party to the Revolutionary Union. He is a regular contributor to the History News Network, Jacobin magazine, and Leonard has a BA in history, with a concentration in social science, from New York University. He is currently completing a book about the FBI and the folk singers of the 1940s & 50s, to be published in the Fall of 2020 (Repeater Books, UK). He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Upcoming programs presented by Aaron Leonard.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart
One-Time WPL01073 Aaron Leonard Music, Rebellion, and Repression in the Sixties Part I: Burying the ‘50s / Birthing the '60s, 1960-1967
Tuesday, January 7: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm