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Grace Harriet Spofford papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00150

Scope and Contents

The Grace Spofford Papers consist of biographical material, correspondence, diaries, business papers (mostly financial), memorabilia, speeches, writings, sheet music, photographs, organization files, and subject files. The bulk of the material is the files on organizations (primarily music-related) for which and with which Spofford worked. There are also a large number of subject files on women in music including biographical files on individual women musicians. Though there is one item dated 1795, the bulk of the materials are dated from 1935 to 1954.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1795-1974
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1935-1954


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to unpublished materials may be owned by the creator, or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Grace Spofford was born in 1887 in Haverhill, MA. She studied piano from age seven and entered Mt. Holyoke College in 1905, transferring after one year to Smith College. After receiving an A.B. from Smith in 1909, Spofford taught piano at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, OH, and gave recitals in small towns in the midwest. In 1912, she went to Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, where she studied piano and organ, taught piano, wrote music criticism for the Baltimore Evening Sun, and published A Guide for Beginners in Piano Playing (1916) with her lifelong friend Elizabeth Coulson. An injury combined with a love of administrative work led to jobs as Executive Secretary at Peabody (1917-24) and first Dean of the newly established Curtis Institute of Music (1924-31) in Philadelphia. After moving to NY in 1931, she worked as Associate Director of the NY College of Music, Executive Secretary of Layman's Music Courses, and manager of the Curtis String Quartet. In 1935 Spofford became Director of the Music School of the Henry Street Settlement where she worked to de-professionalize music and encourage widespread participation in music "shared as a common experience of life." After her retirement in 1954, Spofford represented the U.S. at many national and international music and music education conferences, was a delegate to the International Music Council of UNESCO, and served on the International and National Councils of Women. She died in 1974.


11.522 linear feet (27 containers)


Teacher; Musician; Music administrator. Papers include correspondence, diaries, memorabilia, speeches, writings, sheet music, photographs, and subject files on women in music. There are also a large number of files on organizations and conferences (primarily music-related), including the Music School of the Henry Street Settlement, the International Music Council of UNESCO, and the International Council of Women and National Council of Women.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Grace Harriet Spofford, 1960-1975. Several additional items were donated by Claire Moed in 2018.

Related Material

Additional material located in Smith College Archives.

Grace Harriet Spofford papers
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 (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:15-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • Location of finding aid

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063