Department of Music Lecture: “Mrs. Wardwell’s Plan of Study: The Women’s Club Movement and the Historiography of American Music”

Marian Wilson Kimber, Professor of Musicology, University of Iowa

Between 1898 and 1925, Linda Bell Free Wardwell sold thirty thousand booklets entitled Plan of Study on Musical History. Designed to facilitate programming by members of the National Federation of Music Clubs, Wardwell’s pamphlets were adopted by women’s organizations from Magnolia, Arkansas, to Silver City, New Mexico. Her offerings contributed to the canonization of European composers in the United States, but they also supported the Federation’s advocacy of American music. This talk positions Wardwell’s publications within contemporary American musical historiography. It explores the ways in which women’s historical activities within the club movement influenced—and yet were overshadowed by—more mainstream publications authored by men.

Marian Wilson Kimber is Professor of Musicology at the University of Iowa. Her numerous publications have treated Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, women’s musical activities, and the role of poetic recitation in concert life. Wilson Kimber’s book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word, won the H. Earle Johnson Subvention from the Society for American Music. Her most recent publications include an article about women’s peace songs for Eleanor Roosevelt in Music & Politics and a chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Amy Beach. Wilson Kimber is a founding member of the duo, Red Vespa, which performs comic spoken word pieces by women composers. Her current project is a book about the roles of clubwomen activists in shaping American music.