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Boden Sandstrom papers and Woman Sound records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00745

Scope and Contents

The collection documents the history of Woman Sound (later City Sound Productions), the first all-woman sound company founded by Sandstrom and her partner, Casse Culver, in 1975. It is comprised of correspondence, financial records, legal documents, tax records, and general office files. The collection also includes research materials for Sandstrom's dissertation.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1941 - 2017


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works created by Boden Sandstrom in this collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Boden Sandstrom was born in 1945 and began her musical career in fifth grade with the trumpet. In junior high, she switched to the French horn, the instrument she stayed with through college and graduate school. At St. Lawrence University, Sandstrom played in the University Brass Ensemble while earning her Bachelor's degree as an English major with a music minor. She then went on to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, earning her Master of Library Science degree, while also playing in the university band. By this time, the late 1960s, the Vietnam War was raging, and Sandstrom's political activism accelerated. When she moved to Boston, with her then-husband and fellow activist Rogelio Reyes, she took a job at the Northeastern University Library and served as the volunteer office manager for the Greater Boston Peace Action Coalition in 1970. It was also during this time that Sandstrom was drawn into the nascent women's liberation movement. As a co-founder of Female Liberation in Boston (1968), she was part of the creation of its journal, The Second Wave, in 1971, appearing in print as Barbara Reyes.

By 1974, the remaining members of Female Liberation voted to disband. Around the same time, Sandstrom moved to Washington, D.C. Attending her first women's concert, she met Casse Culver, a singer/songwriter and sound engineer, who was already very involved in the burgeoning women's music scene. They became life partners and, later, business partners, when they founded Woman Sound in 1975, a sound engineering company based in Washington, D.C. Eventually, Sandstrom became sole proprietor, renaming the company City Sound Productions. Over the years, she did the sound production for many of the major political events staged on the Mall, including gay and lesbian rights rallies, the March for Women's Lives in 2004, and every National Organization for Women event held in Washington from 1975 to 1993. She also worked with a variety of artists, including Cab Calloway, the Clash, Joan Jett, Mercedes Sosa, Sweet Honey and the Rock, Pete Seeger, and many others. Sandstrom was also deeply involved with the women's music scene, doing the sound for DC-area events, as well as the internationally-acclaimed Michigan Womyn's Music Festival for over a decade (1976-1987). Deep engagement with this community led to her 2002 dissertation, "Performance, Ritual and Negotiation of Identity in the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival" (doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland). That same year, Sandstrom served as co-producer on Dee Mosbacher's award-winning documentary, Radical Harmonies: Woodstock Meets Women's Liberation in a Film about a Movement that Exploded the Gender Barriers in Music. She had previously earned a Master of Science degree in audio technology (American University, 1984) and a women's studies certificate from the University of Maryland in 1996. In 2003, Sandstrom received the Philip Brett Award from the American Musicological Society in recognition of her archival work in the field of musicology.

After almost two decades at the University of Maryland, Sandstrom retired from teaching and administrative work in 2013. Her teaching career began when she started her graduate work in 1994. At the time of her retirement, she was a lecturer in ethnomusicology in the Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, where she also managed the division's world ensembles and served as Director Of Technologies for the entire University of Maryland School of Music. Sandstrom's "World Popular Musics and Identities" course was part of University of Maryland's core curriculum for more than a decade, enrolling 300 undergraduates each year. She also taught undergraduate honors and graduate courses on music and gender and music and politics. At the University of Maryland and within the professional organization, Society for Ethnomusicology, she was a relentless activist for better gender representation and the rights of the LGBTQ community. As a pioneering female sound engineer, Sandstrom pushed the boundaries, improving opportunites for the women who would follow her. According to a press release regarding her retirement, "After the very first NOW rally in 1975 that she [Sandstrom] engineered, Gloria Steinem wrote, 'Allowing women to hear each other is the basis of this revolution, and you are doing that, spiritually as well as technically'" (found in Acc.#15S-28, box 1).


35.501 linear feet (33 containers)

2.1017 Gigabytes


The collection documents the history of Woman Sound (later City Sound Productions), the first all-woman sound company founded by Sandstrom and her partner, Casse Culver, in 1975. It is comprised of correspondence, financial records, legal documents, tax records, and general office files. The collection also includes research materials for Sandstrom's dissertation.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Boden Sandstrom, 2015-2017.


Bank records pertaining an ATM card and its 1987 misuse by someone other than Boden Sandstrom were returned to donor in 2019-07.

1 folder of payroll and other employee records for City Sound Productions, inc. and Woman Sound, inc. were separated from the collection and shredded in September 2023.

Related Materials

Related materials may be found in the following collections of the Sophia Smith Collection:

Separated Materials

Records related to Sandstrom's career at the University of Maryland are housed at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library at the University of Maryland.

Processing Information

The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created. Some floppy disks were unable to be copied. See the log files linked in the container list for more details.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.



Finding Aid to the Boden Sandstrom papers and Woman Sound records
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Scott Biddle .
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:23-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-05-11: Added accessions 15S-28, 15S-42, and 17S-23, updated dates
  • 2020-06-01: Description added for born-digital content.
  • 2023-02-17: Collection retitled to reflect that these include both Boden Sandstrom's personal papers and the records of Woman Sound.

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063