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Women's Music Archives Collection, 1972-2005
79 boxes (circa 75 linear feet)
Collection number: MS 552

Abstract:
The Women's Music Archives Collection consists of bibliographies, biographical sketches, clippings, correspondence, flyers, newsletters, photographs, posters, publicity materials, songbooks, sound recordings, videotapes, and memorabilia. The bulk of the collection dates from 1975 to 1995 and consists of live and studio-produced recordings by women musicians and of women's music festivals, retreats, and conferences. There is also a significant amount of papers documenting the work of individual women musicians, women's music groups and choruses; and the production, distribution, concert booking, and publicity infrastructure for women's music recordings, concerts, festivals, and retreats. Included are extensive records of the North East Women's Music Retreat, a 1980s-90s regional festival, and a substantial set of files from Olivia Records, 1973-94.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

With the exception of the audiovisual items, the materials are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Original live recordings are closed to research. In some cases, in-house use copies have been made. Researchers interested in access to live recordings for which there is no use copy should contact the Sophia Smith Collection to discuss options. With the exception of reformatting for in-house research use, permission from all artists is required before any live tape recordings may be duplicated.

Commercially produced recordings are available for in-house research use provided the Sophia Smith Collection has the equipment necessary to play them. Due to copyright restraints, commercially available recordings may not be reproduced. Many of these materials are available for purchase or download via the Worldwide Web.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright is owned by the individual artists or record companies. 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. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Historical Note

During a summer 1975 visit to Maine, friends introduced Lucia "Kim" Kimber and Kathy Lewis to recordings made by Meg Christian, Alix Dobkin, and The Deadly Nightshade. "We were instantly hooked," wrote Kimber in 1985. Two months later, Kimber and Lewis attended the First Boston Women's Music Festival with a small tape deck on which they recorded the two-day long festival held at Harvard University. "That was a mind boggling experience, not only for the music, but it was the first time that I had ever been in an auditorium with 500 women in one spot…. It was the first time that we ever heard music that was aimed particularly at women's issues, and it was composed by women and performed by women." (Lucia Kimber oral history with Amanda Izzo, 2009) Enthralled with the experience, Kimber and Lewis began attending and recording (with the artists' permission) every women's music concert they could get to. They also began collecting studio recordings, books, catalogs, clippings, flyers, posters, programs, memorabilia, newsletters, and other materials related to women's music, including information on artists, production companies, festivals, and the women's music and comedy concert circuit.

Lewis and Kimber first met Ruth Dworin at the 4th National Women's Music Festival in Champaign-Urbana in 1977. Dworin was also making recordings of festival concerts and owned a women's music production company in Toronto called Womanly Way Productions. After meeting at several more events, the three women decided to establish a formal entity to collect and preserve women's music materials. In the fall of 1978 they created the Women's Music Archives as a non-profit organization based at Kimber's home in Fairfield, Connecticut.

According to the WMA's 1980 Catalog, "The primary function of the Women's Music Archives is to collect and preserve, for herstorical listening and research purposes, all types of materials related to women's music." The bulk of the collection focused on "woman-identified, woman-made music, primarily, though not exclusively feminist and lesbian in orientation" that "evolved as a definite entity" beginning in the early 1970s. As the collection grew, Kimber, Lewis, and Dworin added earlier recordings by women "that spoke to the issues which were of vital concern and interest to women." Their Archives was conceived as a means to preserve part of the flourishing and self-affirming lesbian-feminist culture of the day.

In a 1980 article about the Archives for Sojourner, Kimber wrote:

Women derive strength and comfort from many various sources such as feminist literature, women's support groups, communal living situations, and women's art forms such as painting, sculpture, photography, and music…. It is certain…that women's music provides a kind of strength, support and inspiration which is found nowhere else and most certainly is not found in popular music which bombards us constantly over the airways today.

In addition to the Women's Music Archives, Kimber also participated in the "scene" through deep involvement in the North East Women's Musical Retreat (NEWMR), an organization which produced regional outdoor music festivals on Labor Day weekend from 1981 to 2000.

Eager for the Archives to be preserved beyond the lives of its founders, the WMA Directors decided to place it in the Sophia Smith Collection in 2004.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Women's Music Archives consists of circa 75 linear feet of materials collected and recorded in order to document "woman-identified, woman-made music, primarily, though not exclusively feminist and lesbian in orientation" that "evolved as a definite entity" from the early 1970s. Materials include bibliographies, biographical sketches, clippings, correspondence, flyers, newsletters, photographs, posters, publicity materials, songbooks, sound recordings, videotapes, and memorabilia.

The bulk of the collection dates from 1975 to 1995 and consists of live and studio-produced sound recordings by women musicians and of women's music festivals, retreats, and conferences. The collection also contains significant paper files documenting the work of individual women musicians; women's music groups and choruses; and the production, distribution, concert booking, and publicity infrastructure for women's music recordings, concerts, festivals, and retreats.

Major topics found throughout these files include the women's music movement, women in music more broadly, and differences and diversity within the feminist and lesbian-feminist movement since the 1970s. Though the impetus for founding the collection was "women's music" as it evolved in the early 1970s, there is also material on women in mainstream popular, classical, folk, jazz, blues, punk, and riot grrrl music, as well as stand-up comedy.

The Festivals, Retreats, and Conferences Series documents the thriving women's music, art, theater, and stand-up comedy "scene" (1974-2000), through advertising, newspaper clippings, and packets given out at the festivals. Also included are correspondence with festival organizers, credentials, and release forms for recording live performances for the Women's Music Archives. Especially extensive files on the North East Women's Music Retreat, a 1980s-90s regional festival for which Kim Kimber was a coordinator, reveal the dedication required to plan and produce these complex events. Through the minutes, memoranda, and correspondence, one can also see the ongoing debates and discord surrounding issues such as meaningful inclusion of disabled women, mothers, and women of color; and how to preserve women-only space -- i.e. policies which dictate who can be on the land during the retreat, ranging from male grounds keepers and other personnel to mothers of boy children. The audiovisual materials include extensive live recordings of festivals, concerts, and retreats.

The Artists Series contains press packages, clippings, and photographs. They document well-known artists such as Margie Adam, Meg Christian, Holly Near, Teresa Trull, and Cris Williamson, as well as numerous lesser-known artists. Most of the minor artists' files mainly consist of applications submitted to the North East Women's Music Retreat and accompanying promotional material. There are many stand-up comedians in these files as well.

The Organizations Series contains correspondence, fliers, brochures, and catalogs produced by business organizations and production companies, as well as other non-profit groups focused on women's music. Included is a substantial set of files from Olivia Records composed of correspondence from artists looking to record with Olivia, promotional materials from 1973 through 1994, information for distributors, and clippings, among other items. Of particular interest are the newsletters and correspondence regarding Sandy Stone, a transwoman who worked for Olivia, and some materials regarding Olivia's 1979 change in organizational structure. Other companies with more substantial files include Redwood Records, Goldenrod, Horizon, and Ladyslipper.

The Audiovisual Material Series primarily consists of compact discs, audiocassettes, and LPs. Many of these are live concert and festival recordings, a portion of which have been reformatted to compact disc and are available for research. Please contact the Sophia Smith Collection for more information.

The Reference Materials Series includes bibliographies and research guides, special issues of newsletters and periodicals, pamphlets, directories, and transcripts of interviews with Meg Christian, Holly Near, Susan Freundlich, Margie Adam, Rosemary Schonfeld, and Janna Runnals.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

With the exception of the audiovisual items, the materials are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Original live recordings are closed to research. In some cases, in-house use copies have been made. Researchers interested in access to live recordings for which there is no use copy should contact the Sophia Smith Collection to discuss options. With the exception of reformatting for in-house research use, permission from all artists is required before any live tape recordings may be duplicated.

Commercially produced recordings are available for in-house research use provided the Sophia Smith Collection has the equipment necessary to play them. Due to copyright restraints, commercially available recordings may not be reproduced. Many of these materials are available for purchase or download via the Worldwide Web.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright is owned by the individual artists or record companies. 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. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Women's Music Archives Collection, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

Lucia B. "Kim" Kimber donated the Women's Music Archives Collection to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Alyssa Pluss, Anna Eisen, and Maida Goodwin, 2009


Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/

Language
English