Pete Seeger: Letters About Family and Childhood

Poignant and innocent, these childhood letters written by Pete Seeger will transport you back to a simpler time.

| By Pete Seeger

  • Pete Seeger In His Own Words
    “Pete Seeger in His Own Words” compiles a valuable collection of private writings, documents and letters, and presents the story of a man struggling to understand his gift, his time and his place.
    Cover Courtesy Paradigm Publishers
  • Banjo Drawing
    “I would like to buy a big banjo and play in the very little jazz band up here that has just been started.”
    Photo By Fotolia/Oana Stoica

  • Pete Seeger In His Own Words
  • Banjo Drawing

Pete Seeger, a lifelong American musical and political icon, has eloquently written in books and for magazines, activist movements and union letters. Pete Seeger: In His Own Words (Paradigm Publishers, 2012) assembles an array of sources such as letters, notes to himself, published articles, stories and poetry that paints the most intimate picture of Seeger as a musician, activist and family man. Through his own words, learn about the lives of his ancestors, and discover why, at age 13, he wanted a banjo in this excerpt taken from Chapter 1, “Growing Up (1919 - 1934).” 

Pete Seeger was recently interviewed on “The Colbert Report.” To watch him discuss Pete Seeger: In His Own Words, view the episide online: The Colbert Report - Full Episode: August 6, 2012.

“My Family Background,” 1957

Draft of letter to Paul Ross, dated May 10, 1957; found in Seeger files

Dear Paul,

You wanted some résumé of my family background and life, so I sit me down and try to organize a teeming memory.

First of all, like many people, I have spent much of my youth trying to forget my antecedents. I confess it. I tried to ignore them, to disparage them. I felt they were all upper-class, and I was trying to identify myself with the working people. Now, at the sage and sober age of 38 I have finally come around to assess them more objectively, to be grateful for their strength and character, for their making it possible for me to be alive on this world today, and to realize that a good honest streak of independency has run through them for as much of the last three hundred years as I know about.

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