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Dorothy Stahl papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00145

Scope and Contents

This collection contains diaries, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings and sound recordings. The collection provides a comprehensive overview of the career and personal life of Dorothy Stahl. The scrapbooks and newspaper clippings give information about her performances and the sound recordings are excellent examples of her singing abilities. She keeps a diary starting in 1931 and they are short entries but somewhat introspective. As Dorothy gets older her diary entries divulge less about her inner thoughts and more about her daily activities and the state of the weather. The diaries also show her failing health visually through the detrioration of the handwriting as the Parkinson's disease makes it more difficult for her to write.

Dates of Materials

  • 1915-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1925-1999


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

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. 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. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, 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.

Biographical / Historical

Dorothy Stahl was born December 3, 1918 in Toledo, OH the only child of George Peter and Lola (Torbet) Stahl. She began taking piano lessons at the age of six but did not begin pursuing singing until the age of 16. Dorothy was educated in the public schools in Toledo and graduated from De Vilbiss High School in 1936. She began her undergraduate education at Toledo University where she concentrated on courses in Music and French. She transferred to the Chicago Musical College in the fall of 1939 and studied with voice teacher Graham Reed. Her skills progressed rapidly and she was awarded the Oliver Ditson Scholarship for $1,000.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1942, she went directly to the Juilliard Graduate School in New York with a four-year fellowship. She studied voice with Queena Mario, a former opera singer with the Metropolitan Opera. The war prevented Dorothy from studying in Europe and Juilliard compensated by providing the voice students stage experience in a series of productions. She sang leading roles in Der Freishutz Cosi fan tutte, The Secret Marriage by Cimarosa, and Puccini's La Rondine. She received her certificate from Juilliard in 1946.

During her early career she sang leading roles with the Chautauqua Opera Company, was a soloist with the Desoff Choir and the National Symphony Orchestra, and appeared on the Columbia Broadcasting Company as soloist on the "Church of the Air" and "New Voices in Song" programs. She aspired to being a member of the Metropolitan Opera and was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Audition of the Air in 1948. Two years later she gave her first Town Hall Recital in New York City.

Dorothy began her teaching career in 1952 at Centenary Junior College in Hackettstown, NJ. She was soon persuaded to join the faculty at Smith College where she began teaching voice students in September of 1955. Dorothy was highly involved in the life of the college and her department. She served on Music Department committees, appeared in every faculty show, gave numerous recitals, served as College Marshal, and was dedicated to her voice students. She published A Selected Discography of Solo Song in 1968 and followed that with five editions the last of which was published in 1984 the year she retired. Dorothy battled Parkinson's Disease for many years and died on April 3, 2003.


1.521 linear feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



Dorothy Stahl was a Professor of Music and singer. The collection contains diaries, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and sound recordings.

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Carol Gotwals, executor of the estate of Dorothy Stahl, donated this collection to the College Archives, in July 2003.

Related Material

See also:

  1. 42.Silbert, Doris - retirement party music
  2. 42. Putman, Raymond - retirement party music
  3. 100. Audio-Visual Collection
  4. 52. Music Department records

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Dorothy Stahl papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Karen Eberhart
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 (
  • 2019-03-11: Updated container information and re-published.

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063