I am rather embarrassed that it took me as long to discover the Weavers as it did. After all, in the Sixties I was listening to the Smothers Brothers do their versions of "Tzena Tzena," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," and "Marching to Pretoria." Even those who missed out on the folk music revival have heard "Wimoweh" (a.k.a. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), "Wreck of the 'John B.,'" and "The House of the Rising Sun," but you can certainly do that without having heard about the Weavers. Certainly you mention "If I Had A Hammer" and you are going to have most people say Peter, Paul & Mary rather than the Weavers. But get them to sit down and listen to "The Weavers: Best of the Vanguard Years," and it is not just their ears but also their eyes that are going to be opened.
They will discover those songs that remain uniquely songs of The Weavers, such as "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" and "Goodnight Irene," but they will also learn about another major piece in the history of American folk music going way back before Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Of course, that road back eventually leads to Woody Guthrie, America's troubadour.
The Weavers are Pete Seeger, tenor and banjo; Ronnie Gilbert, alto; Lee Hays, baritone and bass; and Fred Hellerman, baritone and guitar. These 24 tracks are collected from the 1950s and 1960s, taken from the albums "The Weavers at Carnegie Hall," "The Weavers on Tour," "The Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall," "The Weavers At Home," "Traveling On with The Weavers," and "The Weavers Almanac," along with two previously unreleased live tracks from performances at the Newport Folk Festival in 1960. I have to think it is pretty hard to stop at one Weaver's album once you have heard them sing, but this collection is an excellent starting point in learning more about the glorious history of American Folk Music.