Betsy Siggins has been a central figure in the Cambridge folk music community since she happened upon the local coffeehouse scene as a college freshman in 1958. Betsy was a founding member of Club 47, the legendary venue where musicians such as Joan Baez, Jim Kweskin, and Eric von Schmidt helped to launch the folk revival. When Club 47 closed in 1968, Betsy went on to work with many nonprofits. In Washington , D.C. , she aided Ralph Rinzler with the Festival of American Folklife, patterned after the earlier festivals at Newport . During 20 years in New York , she founded programs for homeless people with AIDS and worked at various soup kitchens and food pantries, and also earned a B.S. degree in community development, focusing on women in poverty. Betsy was one of the first people to connect social problems requiring money and awareness with artists who shared her concerns.
In 1997 Betsy returned to Club 47’s successor, Club Passim and for 12 years served as executive director, creating nonprofit programs such as Culture for Kids, an after-school program for underserved Cambridge students, the Passim School of Music, and the Passim Archives. Now, a founder of the New England Folk Music Archives/Folk New England, she turns her energies to establishing a permanent home for the legacy of the folk music community in New England.