June 24, 2015

Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison: Pete and Toshi Seeger

Toshi & Pete Seeger 1992
Producers: Pete and Toshi Seeger with Bruce Jackson
Cinematographer: Daniel Seeger
Sound: Pete Seeger
Editing: Daniel Seeger
Copyright: Folklore Research Films, Inc, March 1966
Original format: Film 16mm, 1966 29 minutes, Black and White
Distributor: Vestapol

Pete Seeger and Toshi Seeger, their son Daniel, and folklorist Bruce Jackson visited a Texas prison in Huntsville in March of 1966 and produced this rare document of of work songs by inmates of the Ellis Unit. Worksongs helped African American prisoners survive the grueling work demanded of them. With mechanization and integration, worksongs like these died out shortly after this film was made. Bruce Jackson's book Wake Up Dead Man (University of Georgia Press) is a highly recommended study of work songs in Texas prisons.

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