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Harold M. Hildreth was a psychologist on the faculty of Syracuse University.


"'Men of the Soil' is one of the best-known farmers' songs, but few know where it came from. Chester Graham, Director of Ashland Folk School at Grant, Michigan, from 1928-1938, gives the background. The trail goes back to the summer of 1928 when a group attending the Ashland Folk School decided to translate 'The Danish Harvest Song' (Marken er Mejet) into English. (The original can be heard on Folkway's record, Songs of Denmark, FW 6857.) Carl Hutchinson, a member of the group, took the song back to the Chicago Theological Seminary where he was teaching, and it became popular with the students there. The following spring the farmers in the Chicago Milk Shed went on strike to force Chicago distributors to pay them the same price farmers were getting at Waukegan. A group of students from the Chicago Theological Seminary went out to help the farmers, and sang the Danish song at strike meetings. Then one night three of the students decided to write topical words to the Danish tune. The three were Gerald Patton (later in rural YMCA work in Michigan), Harold Hatcher (later secretary of the Illinois Farmers' Union), and Harold Hildreth (later on the Faculty of Syracuse University). They worked far into the night and then Patton and Hatcher went to bed, leaving Hildreth to complete the song. The result was 'Men of the Soil,' which is usually listed under Hildreth's name alone. The song proved popular in the milk strike, was sung at Ashland Folk School in succeeding years, and soon became a special song of the Farmers' Union. Its stirring words and tune have won it wide recognition: in Canada it is used as the theme music of the CBC National Farm Broadcasts."

—Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer, Songs of Work and Freedom


Men of the Soil


 

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