Summer Centered: Cameron Albrecht '20 Tells a Story
The history major is revitalizing the past with a digital exhibit he’s producing for Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center.
In Tulsa, Okla., Cameron Albrecht ’20 is striving to make knowledge of the past public. Supported by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, the history major is interning this summer at the Woody Guthrie Center. The center, which holds a wealth of artifacts and memorabilia detailing the life of music icon Woody Gutherie and the history of the American folk scene, serves as an archive for scholarly researchers and a museum for the general public, in the hopes of furthering the progressive beliefs of its namesake.
“I assist the Guthrie Center in day-to-day tasks, such as inventory, processing, and assisting researchers,” said Albrecht of his responsibilities. “As for ongoing projects, I am working on producing a digital exhibit using the Woody Guthrie Center’s archives to raise awareness of human rights violations in Chile following the 1973 coup.”
For Albrecht, who minors in Spanish, the digital exhibit offered him the perfect opportunity to utilize his skills and the center’s collections in order to publicize an account that he feels has seen little exposure in the U.S. One day, as he was combing through the archives, Albrecht stumbled across a narrative that would become the foundation of his exhibit.
“While researching the folk singer Phil Ochs, I learned of a trip he took to Chile in 1971 that deeply impacted him,” Albrecht said. “He met Chilean folk singer Víctor Jara, a vocal supporter of Salvador Allende. The first Marxist elected via liberal democracy, Allende gave the working-class Chileans hope after a history of Spanish and oligarchic rule.”
The 1973 coup, which happened just after Ochs’ departure from Chile, placed dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. Many supporters of Allende were killed in the process, including Jara, an event that “left a lasting impact on Ochs.” Albrecht’s exhibit hopes to raise awareness of these atrocities through an examination of a subsequent benefit concert held by Ochs in 1974 for the Chilean people.
“The concert included the biggest names in folk music, including Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger,” he said. “Very little has been written about this concert, so I am creating a digital exhibit that will be accessible online in both English and Spanish.”
With several of Jara’s murderers being convicted in 2018, Albrecht’s project establishes that history, though it resides primarily in the past, is palpably present today. With two prior summers of history research on-campus, in addition to his coursework, Albrecht is more than equipped for his task.
“Having studied history at Haverford, I am able to apply a critical lens to the materials and reflect on how they affect the modern world,” he said. “The internship allows me to use the skills I have developed as a historian to produce a project that will make meaningful social change in the present.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.