- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

Excerpts from Pete Seeger’s FBI files:

SEEGER WRITES

Seeger expressed outrage in a 1942 letter over an anti-Japanese resolution from American Legion: “If you bar from citizenship descendants of Japanese, why not descendants of English? After all we once fought them too. America is great and strong as she is because we have so far been a haven to all oppressed.”

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WOODY ON PETE

From the investigator who interviewed Woody Guthrie: “Guthrie said the Subject had been fond of music and folk dancing and that he liked sports, swimming in particular. Guthrie did not know of any organizations to which the Subject had belonged. Guthrie said the Subject had been greatly interested in American folklore and had always been interested in people and what they were doing.”

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AGENT ON WOODY

The investigator who interviewed Guthrie noticed a guitar hanging on the wall inscribed with “This Machine Kills Fascists.” Guthrie famously emblazoned his guitar with that slogan, though the agent seemed unimpressed. He wrote: “It is this agent’s opinion that this bears out the belief that the Almanac Players were active singing Communist songs and spreading propaganda.”

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MY SON

From the agent who spoke to Seeger’s father, Charles Seeger: “Mr. Seeger informed this Agent that Subject had ‘bummed around’ over the country for the past two or three years … Informant is of the opinion Subject was never very much interested in money, and didn’t seem to care whether or not he had any, as long as he had a place to stay and something to eat.”

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GREAT SINGER, POOR TENANT?

Seeger’s former landlord, identified as Mrs. Mangione, was not happy with her former tenant. “There were other young men who frequently called and according to Mrs. Mangione, the group was much too noisy most of the time. She characterized them as a disreputable crowd, none of the members of which ever looked neat or clean-cut. Most of them wore lumber jackets and blue denim trousers and frequently appeared carrying guitars and other musical instruments.”

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PASSPORT BEARD

The FBI continued to keep tabs on Seeger into the 1970s. A 1972 report said Seeger wanted to update his passport photo, which showed him clean-shaven. “This came about when he applied for a visa to visit Russia,” the memo reads, “and the Consul at the Russian Embassy refused to issue a visa until he had a new passport with a photograph reflecting his newly grown beard.”

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