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February 5, 2014

The folksinger and the folklorist

(Continued)

PLATTSBURGH —

SEEGER-PORTER CORRESPONDENCE

From 1970-74, he assisted Porter with editing her folk collection and is in the process of finishing a songbook of approximately 200 of the works. Porter’s manuscript collection is housed at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Special Collections. The Seeger-Porter correspondence will be there, eventually. 

“Pete was interested in the music and the Adirondacks, and Mrs. Porter was interested in getting her collection out there,” Knight said. “She arranged for two albums to be made from her collection.”

In 1960, Folkways Records released Seeger’s “Champlain Valley Songs.” Three years later, the Stinson label released Milt Okun’s “Adirondack Folk Songs and Ballads.”

The Seegers visited the Adirondacks frequently with their family, and when they did, they stopped to see Porter.

“One letter is from Toshi (Seeger’s wife), and she says, ‘I can’t believe how they’re grown,’” Knight said. “‘They were babes when we first met.’”

Knight has a dozen or so letters from Seeger and several from his wife.

“When Pete was traveling, she would answer his mail,” Knight said.

PERFORMS IN PLATTSBURGH

Seeger performed at a benefit concert at 8 p.m. May 8, 1965, at the Physical Education Building at SUNY Plattsburgh. More than 2,000 people were expected to attend, according to ET CETERA Editor Arnie Tucker in the May 7, 1965, edition of the college newspaper.

“Seeger volunteered to present this concert in honor of his good friends, Miss Marjorie Porter and the late Dr. George Yokum. Dr. Yokum, the popular SUCP music professor, and his wife, were killed in a tragic automobile accident in Canada,” according to the article.

“She (Porter) had already worked for Dr. Yokum and Dr. Engelhart,” said Sean Rosemeyer, another of Porter’s granddaughters, who lives in Chicago. Rosemeyer is a 1969 graduate of Plattsburgh High School.

“Part of Seeger’s concert was for the benefit of the Yokum children and half for Marjorie. I was at that live concert. I was about 14. I remember going with my mother and two brothers. It was an honor to have my grandmother honored by this world-famous folk singer.”

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