From Camp Woodland to the Woodstock Music Festival

September 8th, 2010

 Raising Reds Author to Give Talk and Sign Books

Raising Reds: Young Pioneers, Radical Summer Camps, and Communist Political Culture

Woodstock, NY—On Sunday, September 12, from 2 to 4 p.m., Paul C. Mishler, author of Raising Reds: Young Pioneers, Radical Summer Camps, and Communist Political Culture, will give a talk at the Eames House, 20 Comeau Drive in Woodstock. Mishler’s presentation will be titled, “From Camp Woodland to the Woodstock Festival and Beyond.” Camp Woodland was located near Phoenicia from 1939 to 1962 and it helped to spark a revival in Catskill Mountain roots music. This event marks the final day of the Historical Society’s current retrospective exhibit on Camp Woodland.

In Raising Reds, Mishler focuses on the era of 1920 to 1950. During this time the Communist Party was able to make significant inroads into American society. Communists were active in labor unions and universities, and they published their articles in popular newspapers. These activities were undermined and demonized in the early 1950s due to McCarthyism and the advent of the Cold War. However, Mishler contends that the Communist radicalism of the 1930s re-emerged in the New Left’s activism of the 1960s.

Further, in his book Mishler explores how, during the Great Depression, some Americans believed that the music of the people was being forced underground due to the rise of larger, more impersonal instituions of social, commerical and industrial development. Therefore, during the 1930s, the Communists and their allies sought to discover/construct/create an alternative America grounded in the roots of the country’s culture. Camp Woodland set in motion an experiment to bring this alternative democratic model into being. The camp’s organizers felt that the most important way for Woodland to establish new ground was via a celebration of folk music and early American folk values, and that this could be made the basis for societal change. Mishler contends that these same beliefs led to the activism of the 1960s, to the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, and beyond.

Paul Mishler is an Associate Professor of Labor Studies at Indiana University. Raising Reds is published by Columbia University Press. Mishler will be on hand to answer questions and sign books. Refreshments will be served and the event is free. For more information call 845.246.3436 or log onto www.campwoodland.org.


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