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Date of Award

Winter 2023

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pihos, Peter Constantine

Second Advisor

Seltz, Jennifer, 1970-

Third Advisor

Cerretti, Josh


During the folk music revival period, roughly the early 1940s to the late 1960s, folk musicians, music collectors, and folk music insiders forged a connection between American folk music, the past, and ideas of cultural authenticity. In this national context of renewed interest in folk music traditions, folk music communities across the United States cropped up. This thesis analyzes the ideologies and activities of Pacific Northwest folk music communities in the 20th century, with a particular focus during and after the revival period. Typical narratives of the American folk music revival terminate at the end of the 1960s; however, in Washington state there continued to be vibrant and evolving communities based around folk music practice well into the 1980s. This thesis examines the use of folk music in the Northwest to reveal constructions of place and regional identity. Through an analysis of specific Washington state folk songs, communities like the Seattle Folklore Society and the Whatcom County Homemade Music Society, and the development of folk music projects forged in collaboration between folk musicians and state and national government, this thesis provides a deeper understanding to the function of folk music in the Pacific Northwest, the limits and potential of ideology, and the unstable character of the stories we tell about ourselves.




folk music, folk festivals, Northwest history, American folk music revival, American folk singers, songbooks, music history, Seattle, Bellingham


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Seattle Folklore Society; Whatcom County Homemade Music Society

Subject – LCSH

Folk music--Washington (State); Folk music--Northwest, Pacific; Folk festivals--Northwest, Pacific

Geographic Coverage

Washington (State); Northwest, Pacific




masters theses




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