The Woody Guthrie Fellowship is an annual research program open to scholars pursuing topics or themes related to American folk music progenitor Woody Guthrie. First established in 2005, the program offers an unprecedented opportunity for in-depth exploration into the many facets of Guthrie’s life, legacy, and contribution to American and world culture.
A prolific singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Woody Guthrie was not only one of the most influential musicians in American history, but also one of the most prominent cultural activists of his generation. Much of his vast body of work advanced social commentary on democracy, human rights, and economic equality, epitomized by his folk classic “This Land Is Your Land.”
The BMI Foundation, in cooperation with the Woody Guthrie Center, annually awards up to $5,000 for scholarly research at the extensive Woody Guthrie Archives, a paper-based research repository located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Archives currently house over 15,000 items—the largest collection of Woody Guthrie primary resource materials anywhere in the world—including Guthrie’s original songwriting notebooks, journals, manuscripts, photographs, correspondences, personal papers, scrapbooks, artwork, and audio recordings. Scholars pursuing research related to Guthrie’s life, historical context, creative works, and musical legacy, as well as his philosophical, political, or humanistic ideals, are encouraged to apply for this prestigious fellowship.
For over a decade, the program has funded a variety of extensive research projects culminating in books, essays, lectures, curricula, public performances, artwork, and other classroom materials that illustrate Guthrie’s lasting cultural impact. Past recipients include award-winning journalist Bart Bull, filmmaker and author Sandra Hale Schuman, and producer and professor Billy Yalowitz.
In order to be eligible for the Woody Guthrie Fellowship, all applicants must have a project-based research topic that: