2021 Student Research Conference:
34th Annual Student Research Conference

Folk Music and the Labor Movement of the Twentieth Century in the United States


Trenton R. Kranz
Dr. Marc Rice, Faculty Mentor

As the Industrial Revolution began, so did the forming of labor unions. In order to aid in organizing strikes and increase membership, music was often a tool of success. Folk music from songwriters like Woody Guthrie and Joe Hill were staples of unions like the I.W.W (International Workers of the World) and others. This research intends to highlight those songwriters and how their music influenced a generation of workers to organize and advocate for better working conditions. To fully understand their impact, this research examines specific song examples and the cultural significance of each to understand the effect that Folk music had on the labor movement itself. The results suggest that with the aid of Folk music, membership of these labor unions increased while also giving members a sense of solidarity with their fellow workers, in addition to educating working class people of their integral role in modern day society.

Keywords: Labor Movement, Labor Unions, Folk Music, Woody Guthrie, Joe Hill

Topic(s):Music

Presentation Type: Asynchronous Virtual Oral Presentation

Session: 15-7
Location: https://flipgrid.com/899114aa
Time: 0:00

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