Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located at the historic site of the famous 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, is asking those who attended Woodstock more than 50 years ago to join the Alumni Registry.
The registry keeps the spirit of Woodstock alive through the stories and memories of the people who were there. The information provided by participants near and far is added to the permanent museum archive, where it will serve as a useful research tool for visitors and scholars as they seek to learn more about the festival and its participants.
The testimonies allow visitors to enrich their understanding of the event and its continued impact. Registry alumni will have the opportunity to receive information about special events and programs designed especially for them.
“Woodstock became an exemplary part of history because 450,000 strangers were able to come together and share in peace, love, and music, despite overcrowding and a lack of resources,” says Neal Hitch, Bethel Woods Museum senior curator. “We’d like to hear from anyone and everyone who helped contribute to this legacy.”
The simple survey asks participants to recall those they attended the festival with, their favorite performance of the event, and consider what their Woodstock experience has meant to them in years since. The museum also requests that the relatives of alumni who have died to participate in their relative’s memory.
“We naively did not bring a tent or food,” recalls one female alum from Mount Sinai, New York. “(We) planned on meeting other friends there that did have both. However, because of the overwhelming crowd it was not easy finding them.”
No problem. “A group of people we had just met welcomed us into their camp site and provided us with both. Everyone we came into contact with was generous and welcoming – even the police. It truly was a magical experience to be with such a large group and share nothing but good vibes and great music.”
In addition to first-hand accounts, the museum is home to a large and growing historical collection that includes snapshots and home movies of the festival.
The Bethel Woods Collection Online Archive features photographs and videos collected from nearly 30 contributors – all bringing new life and context to the Woodstock festival.
Less polished than the images most are familiar with, candid moments from before, during and after the festival preserve both the joyous experience of the festival as well as the less-than-perfect aspects such as mud and the traffic jams on rural country roads.
Photos and videos are available for purchase and may be downloaded with licenses for personal, nonprofit and commercial uses. To view, visit photoarchive.museumatbethelwoods.org/.
To share a personal story or the story of a loved one, visit bethelwoodscenter.org/alumni-registry.