In March of 1940, a young Woody Guthrie sat with folklorist Alan Lomax at the U.S. Department of the Interior studios for a series of oral history interviews for the Library of Congress archives. They were the first-ever professional recordings of Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, and while some of these recordings have been released on record, the original aluminum discs remain at the Library of Congress. Originally broadcast on the 29th anniversary of his death, the recordings offer a glimpse of Guthrie’s early music style and a frank account of his harrowing past.

Recorded in Washington, DC. Premiered October 20, 1996, on Weekend Edition Sunday.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.