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Music collection

Identifier: SSC-MS-00409

Scope and Contents

This collection contains material that documents a wide variety of women's participation in the broad field of music from the 1840s to 1980. The material consists of articles, books, brochures, catalogs, concert programs, interviews (both written and recorded), leaflets, musical scores, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, publicity, recordings and songbooks. There are a few items in the collection that date from the nineteenth century including some rather unique items such as a "juvenile singing book" dating from 1853. More typically the nineteenth century material includes biographical articles and newspaper clippings about well-known women singers of the period such as Lillie Greenough and Henriette Sontag, and women composers such as Amy Beach. The most significant of this material relates to internationally known singer Jenny Lind, and especially to the years she spent in Northampton during the 1840s. Included in the Lind material are articles, copies of correspondence, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, concert programs and photographs.

Most of the material in this collection documents the contributions of women musicians to the field after 1930. There is a significant amount of biographical material related to classical musicians such as Nadia Boulanger, Sarah Caldwell, Emmy Destinn, Frederique Petrides, Olga Samaroff Stowkowski, Beverly Sills, Geraldine Farrar, and Kirsten Flagstad. There is also a large amount of material in the collection that documents the achievements and influence of more recent women musicians including folk musicians Malvina Reynolds and Mary Travers; the women's liberation rock bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s; and the early pioneers of feminist "women's music" such as Holly Near, Meg Christian, Alix Dobkin and Margie Adam; as well as feminist recording companies, Redwood Records and Olivia Records.

Dates of Materials

  • 1848 - 2015
  • Majority of material found within 1930s-1980

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

For Acc#15S-90 and 16S-34: only verbal permissions were obtained from the various interviewees/performers, therefor only 1-2 minute segments may be posted on the SSC Web site, merely to promote this new addition to the Music Collection. Original AV and born-digital materials may not be used; research use copies must be made.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy all copyright holders. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.


9 boxes (3.5 linear feet (2 volumes, phonograph records))


Documents a wide variety of women's participation in the broad field of music. Material consists of books, catalogs, concert programs, interviews (both written and recorded), musical scores, printed material, photographs, publicity, recordings and songbooks. Contains biographical material on well-known women singers and composers (both classical and popular). Includes the women's liberation rock bands and folk music of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as feminist recording companies.


This collection is organized as follows:
  1. I. General
  2. II. Biographical Material
  3. Oversize Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Music Collection is an on-going collection comprised of materials that were either purchased or given to the Sophia Smith Collection by various donors.

Additions to the Collection

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in the finding aid.

Related Material

Related material is located in the following collections in the Sophia Smith Collection: Women's Music Archives Collection, 1975-2005.

Related material is located in the following repositories:
  1. -Amy Beach: University of New Hampshire and University of Missouri-Kansas City
  2. -Nadia Boulanger: Loeb Library, Harvard University
  3. -Geraldine Farrar: Library of Congress
  4. -Kirsten Flagstad: Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University
  5. -Holly Near: Schlesinger Library, Harvard University
  6. -Henriette Sontag: Annenberg Library, University of Pennsylvania

Processing Information

Finding aid revised in 2002 by Gayla Spaulding, intern. Introductory text by Kate Weigand. Updated 2006 and 2015.
Music collection
Finding Aid
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss106 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063