Carl Sandburg Historic Site Association
Galesburg, Illinois

CARL SANDBURG (1878-1967) wrote poetry, biography, autobiography, fiction and newspaper articles. He was a lecturer and folk-singer as well. His newspaper coverage of social unrest in 1919 resulted in a book called The Chicago Race Riots. The stories he invented for his three daughters became The Rootabaga Stories. When he was 70 he published his first and only novel, Remembrance Rock.

Sandburg won Pulitzer prizes in history and poetry. He was always trying new forms of writing and taking on new challenges. Once he wrote, "I had studied monotony. I decided whatever I died of, it would not be monotony."

Sandburg's poems are often full of slang and the language of ordinary Americans. Sandburg wrote poems about Chicago-- the "stormy, husky, brawling" life of the city and the lonely peace of the prairie. He wrote about real people with real problems and he wrote by his own rules.

Sandburg wasn’t content to write only poetry. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas had debated in his hometown of Galesburg, Illinois, in October of 1858.

As a boy Sandburg knew and conversed with people who had known Lincoln. During his early career Sandburg began researching and writing about the president. The two-volume biography Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, did not fulfill his interest in Lincoln. He continued his research and in 1939 produced four volumes called Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history for his Lincoln books. In 1929 Sandburg also published a biography called Steichen The Photographer of his best friend and brother-in-law, Edward Steichen.

Sandburg’s autobiography, Always The Young Strangers, tells the story of the first 21 years of his life. He was 75 when it was published.

In his book Sandburg writes about how it was to be a child and a teenager in Galesburg. He explains why he left school after eighth grade and why, when he was 19 and restless, he became a hobo, hopping one west-bound train after another as he set out to see the country. He tells how he left home "with my hands free, no bag or bundle, wearing a black-sateen shirt, coat vest, and pants, a slouch hat" ... and "headed for the open road, a young stranger meeting many odd strangers" on his way.

Beginning in 1903, Sandburg spent a lot of time traveling around the country to lecture to school and college audiences and to the American public at large. He played the guitar and sang folk songs, read his poetry aloud, and talked about his dreams for America. Because he loved the language of the ordinary American, he collected sayings, slang and folk lore; stories and songs people shared with him in the small towns, cities, and farms he visited.

In 1927 Sandburg published one of the first collections of American folk music. It was called The American Songbag, and included 280 folk songs, many of them printed for the first time. The American Songbag gives us such favorites as "Foggy, Foggy Dew," "John Henry," "Frankie and Johnny," "Ain't Goin' Study War No More" and Sandburg’s favorite, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum."

In 1959, Sandburg was awarded a Grammy Award for "Best spoken performance - documentary" for his 1958 narration of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait performed byAndré Kostelanetz and the New York Philharmonic



All these books may be obtained through your local library, or through the Carl Sandburg Historic Site Association, 313 East Third St., Galesburg, Illinois 61401. (309) 342-2361.

331 E. Third St.
Galesburg, Illinois 61401
Open Daily 9-5

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Last modified 9 January 2010.