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Women's Bands in America

Performing Music and Gender

Edited by Jill M. Sullivan

Hardback
eBook
In Women’s Bands in America: Performing Music and Gender, contributors trace women's emerging roles in society as seen through women's bands spanning three centuries of American history. Authors explore town, immigrant, family, school, suffrage, military, swing, and rock bands, adopting a variety of methodologies and theoretical lenses in order to assemble and integrate their findings within the context of women's roles in American society over time.

This survey uncovers new areas of research in the history of women's bands. Previous book-length works on this subject represent only the tip of the iceberg for what remains a vast and unclaimed terra incognita in women's history.
Women's Bands in America is the first comprehensive exploration of women’s bands across the three centuries in American history.

Contributors bring together a series of disciplines in this unique work, including musicology, American history, women's studies, and history of education. They also draw on numerous primary sources: diaries, personal letters, military documents and records, oral-history interviews, newspaper articles, film, radio-broadcast recordings and transcripts, photographs, military documents, recordings, and published ephemera. Thoroughly, contributors engage in iconographic study, content analysis, qualitative research, case study, biography, and archival historical research to bring their topics to life. This ambitious collection will be of use not only to students and scholars of music history, but also women's studies and America's social history.

Contributions by: Vilka E. Castillo Silva, Dawn Farmer, Danelle Larson, Brian Meyers, Sarah Minette, Gayle Murchison, Jeananne Nichols, David Rickels, Joanna Ross Hersey, Sarah Schmalenberger, Amy Spears, and Sondra Wieland Howe.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 386Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-5440-4 • Hardback • December 2016 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-4422-5441-1 • eBook • December 2016 • $99.99 • (£70.00)
Jill M. Sullivan is associate professor of Music Education at Arizona State University and author of Bands of Sisters: U.S. Women's Military Bands during World War II (Scarecrow Press, 2011)
Chapter 1: Introduction
Jill M. Sullivan
Chapter 2: Helen May Butler and Her Ladies' Military Band: Being Professional during the Golden Age of Bands
Brian Meyers
Chapter 3: Town Bands, 1870–1920
Sondra Wieland Howe
Chapter 4: "An Attraction of Unusual Merit," Women's Bands on the Vaudeville Stage
Joanna Ross Hersey
Chapter 5: All-Female School Bands: Separate Spheres and Gender Equality
Jill M. Sullivan
Amy Spears
Chapter 6: Legacies of Leadership: Lillian Williams Linsey and Gladys Stone Wright
Dawn M. Farmer
David A. Rickels
Chapter 7: A Survey of All-Female Drum and Bugle Corps featuring “The Hormel Girls"
Danelle D. Larson
Chapter 8: Mary Lou Williams’s Girl Stars and the Politics of Negotiation: Jazz, Gender, and Jim Crow
Gayle Murchison
Chapter 9: Parading Women: Objectification and Commodification of Women’s Military Bands during WW II
Jill M. Sullivan
Chapter 10: Into the Wild Blue Yonder: A History of the US WAF Band 1949-1961
Jeananne Nichols
Chapter 11: Rockin' it Local: Conversations with All-Women Rock Bands in the Twin Cities
Sarah Schmalenberger
Sarah Minette
Chapter 12: Blowing the Tradition: Women Forming Community and Military Bands in Mexico
Vilka E. Castillo Silva
Chapter 13: Conclusions and Recommendations
Jill M. Sullivan
This collection presents a sweeping 140-year story of successful all-women's bands in the United States and Mexico and fills many gaps in our inherited musical histories. Taken together, these essays present a powerful story of resilience, showing that in creating these musical ensembles, women also created an empowering space for their own gendered agency. It would be useful in a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses on gender and music, gender studies, historical musicology and ethnomusicology.
Ellen Koskoff, University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music


A thrilling journey through the history of women’s bands in the USA. Feminist theory is interwoven with compensatory history, to reveal a web of power and constraint versus liberation and resistance in the gendered musical world. Threading it all together is the Editor’s exciting introduction. Highly recommended.
Lucy Green, Professor of Music Education, UCL Institute of Education, London UK


Women’s Bands in America is a comprehensive and clear ‘must-read’ source for anyone interested in the history of American bands. Jill Sullivan and her contributors have filled the void of women’s mostly forgotten contributions to American bands, and indeed their contributions to music and our culture in general. Understanding these unique contributions is necessary to fully comprehend the role of bands in our society. Bravo to all of the authors, and especially Dr. Sullivan, for telling these amazing stories!
Steven N. Kelly, Florida State University


Women’s Bands in America provides a fascinating, well-researched and compelling history of women forming bands dating back to 1876. Kudos to Jill Sullivan et. al. for recognizing the women whose talents and accomplishments might otherwise never have been brought to light. I am amazed and empowered by the life stories herein!
Paula A. Crider, Professor Emeritus, The University of Texas


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