Guy and Candie Carawan collection, 1959-1985.

Creator: Carawan, Guy and Candie.
Collection number: 20008
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Abstract:  Candie Anderson and Guy Carawan met as a result of their mutual involvement in the civil rights movement and were married in 1960. The Carawans have been involved in the work of the Highlander Research and Education Center (formerly the Highlander Folk School) in Tennessee, an institution that supports and provides educational dresources for progressive social and political causes in the South. The original deposit of materials is chiefly audio tapes that reflect the Carawans’ efforts to document the cultures of various groups of people in the South and elsewhere, beginning in the early 1960s. Included are historically significant speeches, sermons, and musical performances recorded during major civil rights demonstrations and conferences in Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta, and other southern cities. Featured are Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Len Chandler, and the Sea Island Singers. Field recordings of worship meetings, songs, stories, and recollections from Johns Island, S.C., document the African American heritage of the rural South Carolina Low Country. Also included are recordings of interviews with residents of south-central Appalachia concerning problems associated with coal mining and rural poverty and recordings of performances by Appalachian musicians, among them Hazel Dickens. Other items include recordings of remarks and musical performances by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax; a discussion between Guy Carawan and Studs Terkel; performances by singer-songwriter Mayne Smith and actor-comedian-musician Martin Mull; and recordings of Latin-American, Celtic, Australian, and Hungarian vernacular music. The Addition of 2006 contains audio recordings of musical performances and interviews collected by Guy and Candie Carawan, many of which feature members of the Johns Island, S.C., community. The Addition of 2010 primarily contains materials relating to the Carawan’s professional and personal projects in the areas of civil rights, folk music and culture, and social justice. Materials relating to civil rights were collected by Candie Carawan in 1960, when she was an exchange student at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., where she was arrested for participating in a sit-in to protest racial segregation of lunch counters. Also included are materials relating to books, articles, and other writing projects; albums recorded or produced by Guy Carawan; and concerts, lectures, Highlander Center workshops, festivals, conferences, benefits, vacations, reunions, and memorials that the Carawans led or attended. Other files relate to Appalachia, civil rights, the Highlander Research and Education Center, and the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, among other topics. Highlander files contain workshop materials, printed materials, songbooks and sheet music, memoranda, and correspondence relating to the Carawans’ employment and projects there. Sea Islands materials include interview transcripts, articles, and clippings related to the Carawans’ 1988 book, Ain’t You Got a Right to the Tree of Life?; to the Moving Star Hall Singers of Johns Island, S.C.; and to Low Country culture and community issues. Other files include materials relating to conferences, concerts, projects requesting the Carawans’ assistance, and the song “We Shall Overcome!” and a related documentary.

Repository: Southern Folklife Collection

Collection Highlights: Collection of several hundred sound recordings containing extensive documentation of musical and religious life in the Sea Island communities of Georgia and South Carolina (See recordings in Series 1) as well as events relating to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s (See Series 2). See also the additions of 2010 relating to the Sea Islands (Folders 582-636).

The 2010 additions to the collection contain many materials related to the Carawan’s involvement in social justice and civil rights issues, including Candie’s semester at Fisk University, a historically black university in Nashville (Folders 1-37).