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Finding aid to Izzy Young Collection now online

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People playing musical instruments and singing.
Photographer unknown. April 6, 1957. Opening of the Folklore Center. From left: Roy Berkeley, Cynthia Gooding, unknown, Una Ritchie, Perry Lederman, unknown, Carolyn Hester, Gordon Tracie, Jean Ritchie, Happy Traum, and Molly Scott. Collection AFC 2015/040.

This is a guest blog post from AFC archivist Maya Lerman.

We would like to announce the release of the Izzy Young collection finding aid. As you may have read in our series about the collection, the Izzy Young collection documents the late-1950s and 1960s folk revival through the eyes of Israel Goodman Young, founder and proprietor of the Folklore Center (in New York City), and later, the Folklore Centrum (in Stockholm, Sweden). What began as a small book and record store in Greenwich Village, the Folklore Center became an important gathering place for folk musicians, Beat poets, and other folk revival affiliates. Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, Allen Ginsberg, and Harry Smith (of the influential Anthology of American Folk Music) were among the regular visitors to the Folklore Center.

A shot from overhead of Izzy Young writing on paper.
A shot from overhead of Izzy Young writing. There are 135 handwritten journals in the collection. Photograph by Kurt Lesser. August 25, 1990. Tonder, Denmark, Kurt Lesser. Collection AFC 2015/040.

While unpacking, organizing, and rehousing the contents of the 24 packing boxes we received from Sweden, I learned much about Young and his influence on the folk revival scene in New York City, as well as his work  organizing cultural events at the Folklore Centrum in Stockholm, Sweden, where he has been living since 1973. Learning about Young and his role in the music and dance community helped me to decide how best to arrange and describe the collection. I arranged the collection in a traditional archival method, by format, and the formats encompass a range of manuscripts, sound recordings, still images, optical media, artifacts, and publications.

Izzy Young standing on the street in front of the Folklore Center.
Photograph by David Gahr. 1963. Izzy Young in front of the Folklore Center, MacDougal Street, New York City, New York. Collection AFC 2015/040.

But I also tried to arrange the collection in a way that reflects the different facets of his materials, from the hand written journals and scrapbooks documenting Young’s work promoting music, to the ephemera documenting Folklore Center concerts, programs, and catalogs, and other folk music and dance-related camps and programs around the country. My description in the finding aid highlights the range of subjects and classifications covered in the collection, including significant names, musical forms, and social and political issues.

Through my time working with the Izzy Young collection, I was struck by the passion and dedication Young demonstrated as a folk music promoter, and as a supporter and friend of many musicians and poets. One can see evidence of this dedication through the documentation of his frequent programming at the Folklore Center and other venues around New York City (including Bob Dylan’s first concert in 1961), his involvement in the Friends of Old Time Music (which presented traditional, often rural, folk musicians in NYC venues), and through the photographs of Young with many prominent musicians, such as Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, and Patti Smith.

Izzy Young with arm around Phil Ochs.
Photograph by David Gahr. ca. 1970s. Izzy Young and singer/songwriter, Phil Ochs. Collection AFC 2015/040.

Young’s journals and scrapbooks paint a picture of the active music and poetry scene in Greenwich Village, with the Folklore Center at its epicenter as a comfortable space where musicians and poets performed, listened to records, and socialized. A similar dedication is evident in the programming Young consistently displayed at the Folklore Centrum since his move to Stockholm, including of Swedish and other Scandanavian folk music and dance styles.

Izzy Young standing in from of Folklore Centrum.
Photograph by Ann Erikson. ca. 1990-2000. Izzy Young in front of the Folklore Centrum, Stockholm, Sweden. Collection AFC 2015/040.



We’re excited to get the finding aid out in the world. The collection provides insight into the social and cultural history of New York City, and into the folk music and dance community in Stockholm from the 1970s to the present. We hope you’ll peruse the finding aid and catalog record to see the wide-ranging nature of the collection, and to determine what subjects may draw you into the AFC reading room for further research.

Comments (4)

  1. thanks for your hard work and appreciation of this man and his enterprise. i was at the folk center in ’63 and it was overwhelming.

  2. I visited Izzy Young while in Stockholm during January @2011. I was able to take some photos and great videos of Izzy interacting with me and several customers of the Folklore Centrum. Great stuff. It was an amazing place choked full if books, letters and stories from his past. A tremendously historic place.

  3. The photo of the opening day at the Folklore Center was by George Pickow (Jean Ritchie’s husband and a noted photographer). Just so you can give proper credit. Thanks for posting about this collection. – Happy Traum

  4. Thank you for this archive. An important contribution to musical history and research.

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