Sophie Hutchinson Drinker Papers
Sophie (Lewis) Hutchinson Drinker was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, on August 24, 1888 to Sydney Pemberton Hutchinson and Amy Lewis. She attended boarding school at St. Timothy's School in Catonsville, Maryland, and graduated in 1906. Although she was then admitted to Bryn Mawr, she declined to attend college.
She married Henry Drinker, a lawyer and musicologist, in 1911. They had five children: Sophie, Henry S., Jr., Cecilia, Ernesta, and Pemberton. The Drinkers were well known in the Philadelphia area for their invitation-only singing parties. Group songs and music, often with the accompaniment of invited musicians, including some from the Philadelphia Orchestra or the Curtis Institute, preceded and followed dinner prepared by the Drinker household staff.
Sophie Drinker spent a significant portion of her life researching and writing about the history of women and music, as well as promoting choral singing by women. In 1930 she joined the Montgomery Singers, a women's chorus, and many years later she served as the group's president. In her scholarly work Drinker was greatly influenced by Mary Beard, pioneer women's historian, and the democratic, economically oriented history of the "progressive" school to which Beard subscribed. She worked with Beard on her abortive project to establish the World Center for Women's Archives.
Drinker's book, Music and Women: The Story of Women in Their Relation to Music, was published in 1948. It was widely reviewed by the historical community but did not receive much attention from the musical community until the late twentieth century. She is also the author of Brahms and His Women's Choruses (1952) and articles on women and music. In her later works, Drinker moved away from the topic of music and began to focus more on women in colonial America. Her later works include the books Hannah Penn and the Proprietorship of Pennsylvania (1958) and The American Woman in Colonial and Revolutionary Times, 1565-1800 (jointly authored with Eugenie Andruss Leonard and Miriam Young Holden; 1962), and articles entitled, "Patriarchal Values in Women's Education" (1954), "Women and the Ideal Democracy" (1960), "Women Attorneys of Colonial Times" (1961), and "The Two Elizabeth Carterets" (1961).
Cited for her "service in the cause of Music whereby she had brought together and made available much that, but for her, would have lain forgotten," Drinker received an honorary degree from Smith College in 1949. She served for a time as a guest lecturer at Pennsylvania Medical College for Women, from which she received an honorary degree in 1967. Throughout her life Drinker was involved in a number of philanthropic, civic, and women's groups, including the Marriage Council of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Society of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, the Lucy Stone League, the Community Chest, and the League of Women Voters. Because of her work with, and writings on, women, Betty Friedan wanted Drinker to join the first elected board of the National Organization of Women. However, Drinker's health was failing at this point, so her daughter Ernesta volunteered in her place and won election to the board. Drinker died of cancer a few months later in September 1967. The Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, Germany, is named after her.
Additional biographical sketches of Drinker written by Ruth A. Solie can be found in American National Biography and in the afterword of the 1995 edition of Music and Women: The Story of Women in Their Relation to Music.