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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

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


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Web Access

For Accessions #15S-90 and 16S-34, only verbal permissions were obtained from the various interviewees/performers, therefore only 1-2 minute segments may be posted on the web, merely to promote this new addition to the Music Collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.


6.087 linear feet (17 containers)


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

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection.

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online.

Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request the creation of and access to digital copies and digital material.

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.

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