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Updated 10/15/15 /// email
All content of this site is copyright 2002 Gerri Gribi

About the author:
Gerri Gribi
is an award-winning musician, historian and educator who brings the "unsung" history of women and minorities to life. Her CD The Womansong Collection features 24 woman-positive traditional and composed songs with historical notes and lyrics, and has been enthusiastically reviewed at home and abroad. She travels North America performing her one-woman show A Musical Romp Through Women's History. Learn More


Women's Songbooks: For out-of-print or second-hand books try your library interloan or

Alloy, Evelyn and Martha Rogers. Working Women's Music : The Songs and Struggles of Women in the Cotton Mills, Textile Plants, and Needle Trades. Somerville, MS: New England Free Press, 1976. Order at Amazon

Printed music and lyrics about women's experiences of employment in the trades. With an extensive "footnotes/bibliography" and illustrations.

Cheney, Joyce, Marcia Deihl and Deborah Silverstein, Deborah, eds. All Our Lives: A Woman's Songbook. Baltimore: Diana Press, 1976. Order at Amazon

Seventy traditional and contemporary folk songs from women with excellent historical notes.

Giglio, Virginia. Southern Cheyenne Women's Songs. University of Oklahoma Press: 1994 Order at Amazon

Songs, stories and analysis, with translations and musical transcription.

Hanisch, Carol. Fight On Sisters: and Other Songs for Liberation. NY: 1978, Franklin Printing.

Carol Hanisch was a founding member of New York Radical Women and had the original idea for the Miss America Protest in 1968. The complete songbook is available online at Duke Libraries Special Collections Unit

Henderson, Kathy, Frankie Armstrong and Sandra Kerr. My Song is My Own. London: Pluto Press, 1979.

One hundred traditional and composed women's songs from the British Isles, with select bibliography and discography.

Seeger, Peggy. The Peggy Seeger Songbook: Warts & All. Music Sales Corp, 1998. Order at Amazon

Forty years of songmaking now in print! The 159 songs are arranged chronologically, from 1956 through 1997. It's part autobiography, part social history, all engrossing. Available in bookstores, or you can order it directly from Peggy Seeger for $25, which includes postage and handling. PO Box 17055, Ashville, NC 28816.

Seeger, Pete and Bob Reiser. Carry It On! : A History in Song and Picture of the Working Men and Women of America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985. Order at Amazon

The editors have gathered 90 songs like "John Henry," "Oh Freedom!" and "Union Maid," along with the work of some of the great photographers like Lewis Hine, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Earl Dotter and others, to tell how people of many occupations and backgrounds have worked to better their lives.

Silverman, Jerry. The Liberated Woman's Songbook. New York: MacMillan, 1971. Order at Amazon

Excellent source of traditional and contemporary songs., though the tone of the notes sounds a bit patronizing to me in the 1990's ;-)

Wenner, Hilda and Elizabeth Freilicher. Here's to the Women. Sing Out! Publications: 1991.

100 songs for and about American women, with excellent commentaries and biographical notes. Every library should have this one.

Wolff, Francie. Give the Ballot to the Mothers: Songs of the Suffragists. Denlinger's Publishers, LTD, Ozark Division, Springfield MO 1998.

Seven "rally" songs, eleven "songs of persuasion" and seven "popular songs" (including That Ragtime Suffragette) are included in this book, the first to publish the songs AND their music together under one cover. The cover sheets alone are worth the price of the book!

Also available is the excellent 30-minute documentary of the same title which was highly recomended by Library Journal. It is $35, or can be purchased along with the songbook for a total of $60. For further information contact Francie Wolff. Wolffwhispers; 1160 S. Maryland; Springfield, MO 65807. (phone/fax: 417-869-2666). Also available at by clicking on "women."

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Bibliography/Discography For Women's History and Women's Music
For out-of-print or second-hand books try your library interloan or

New! Radical Harmonies, Director Dee Mosbacher, Dr. Boden Sandstrom, Co-Producer, Graduate Studies in Ethnomusicology,
University of Maryland

"Radical Harmonies chronicles a women's music cultural movement which resulted in a revolution in the roles of women in music and culture. The movement gave birth to an alternative industry that changed women and music forever. Through festival and performance footage, interviews, and archival material, the film delves into the rich and beautiful history of women creating a cultural life based in a commitment to diversity, personal integrity, feminism and women loving women. It opened doors for women musicians, producers, sound and light technicians and for new women-owned recording companies, such as Olivia Records and women-oriented shows."

Deihl, Marcia. "The History of Women in Music." Paid My Dues: A Quarterly Journal of Women and Music, (Volume 1, number 1, 1974) pp. 30-33.

Dugaw, Dianne. Warrier Women and Popular Balladry, 1650-1850. Cambridge: University Press, 1989.
Buy this book at $16.00

This book not only explores the "high-mettled heroine of popular ballads who masquerades as a man" of the early modern era, it places her in the context of everyday life and discusses issues of gender. Lyrics to several songs are included, some with melody.

Folksong in the Classroom, Diana Palmer - Asst. Edit. PO box 925 Sturbridge, MA 01566

This is the (somewhat irregular!) newsletter of a network of teachers in history, literature, music and the humanities. Each issue focuses on several themes or topics, and is filled with songs and stories you can take right into your classroom. Contact the address above to receive an index or to subscribe.

Harrison, Daphne Duval. Black Pearls : Blues Queens of the 1920s. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988. Buy this book at $18.00

This is one of those books which is hard to put down. It demonstrates the economic impact of blues women on the music industry with stories of actual blues singers of the 20's such as Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey, and many others. An interesting and readable social history of black women in America. With a discography.

Hymowitz, Carol and Michaele Weissman. A History of Women in America. New York: Bantom Books, 1990. Buy this book at $8.00

This engaging primer covering "the founding mothers to feminists" ought to be required reading in every high school!

Johnston, Norma. Remember the Ladies: The First Women's Rights Convention. New York: Scholastic, 1995. Buy this book at

1998 marks the 150th anniversary of the first women's rights convention. This is a great little book for young adult readers, or anyone wishing to pick up the basics quickly.

Ledford, Lily May. Coon Creek Girl. Berea, KY: College Appalachian Center, 1991.

This is a new edition of the autobiography which was published while Ledford was Folk Artist in Residency at Berea College. It's another book I read straight through! Some great stories and insights into the life of a woman performer in the early days of country.

Ritchie, Jean. Singing Family of the Cumberlands. New York: Oxford University Press, 1955. Reprint edition, New York: Geordie Music Publishing, 1980. Buy this book at

A beautifully told story about life in the mountains, with words and music for 42 songs. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Scott, John A. Ed. Living Documents in American History from Earliest Colonial Times to the Civil War. Trident Press, 1963.

Sherr, Lynn and Jurate Kazickas. Susan B. Anthony Slept Here: A Guide to American Women's Landmarks. New York: Random House, 1994. $20.00 Buy this book at

As the authors say in the introduction to this book, "It is one thing to read a woman's life story; it is quite another to see where she actually lived - or wrote or invented or rebelled." I fully understood this when I was performing in Seneca Falls one year, and walked past the Jane Hunt House in Waterloo...the house where the "tea party that launched a revolution" in 1848 was held. Don't leave home without this book!

Wagner, Sally Roesch. "Is Equality Indigenous? The Untold Iroqouis Influence on Early Radical Feminists." On the Issues (Winter 1996 ) pp. 21-25.

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First recorded in the 1958 and reissued in 1995, with excellent liner notes about the women's suffrage movement.


This 2 CD compilation spans the 1920's to present, and its 30 tracks are packed with sassy songs from the greats like Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey and more.


Over 70 minutes of all-time great gospel performances. Thirty-one songs by 16 women, including my personal favorite, Rosetta Tharpe.


Twenty-five woman positive songs, mostly traditional (author unknown) or older composed songs, with historical notes and lyrics.


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Folk Music Links and Resources

Frequently-asked Questions

Finding songs, and learning more about them (also see the bibliography above)

The major record labels are reissuing a lot of previously recorded material on Compact Disc. Your best bet is to visit an online megastore like Search by song title if you don't care who recorded it, or search by artist if you want someone specific. You can try searching by album title, but this is hit or miss since much of the material is being reissued as compilations of several albums, or "The Best Of."

Sheet Music Plus - Over 350,000 sheet music titles, songbooks, scores and more

Max Hunter Collection

A valuable archive of Ozark Mountain folk songs (and composed songs which have passed into the tradition, like Gussie L. Davis' "Baggage Coach Ahead") recorded in Missouri, Arkansas and nearby between 1956 and 1976. It contains variants of many common folk songs, along with regional songs such as a ballad of the Civil War battle of Pea Ridge, Ark. Digital sound files and musical notation for most.

The Cyber Hymnal

Compiled from old hymnals, this collection has lyrics and MIDI files for over 4400 public domain Christian hymns and Gospel songs from many denominations. In other words, these are OLD SONGS! It was here I found one which is usually listed as simply "raditional, "Oh Come Angel Band" (originally publishes as "My Latest Sun Is Sinking Fast.")

The Digital Tradition Folksong Database

Searchable database with over 8000 folk songs!

Sheet Music Collections

It's amazing how many composed songs have passed into the folk tradition as "anonymous." This site links you to the major archives for American sheet music. Some simply include citations, but others provide scanned images of the sheet music which you can download and print.

Folksong Index Database

Hunting for a recorded version of a particular song? Titles of about 23,000 songs & tunes are found in recorded and other sources. You'll also find composer credits for over 3000 music pieces, and names of more than 10,000 performers. Nearly 2,200 recordings are included with a major emphasis on tradition-based material from both commercial and non-commercial performers. At present the database contains almost entirely recordings, with songbooks being added as time permits.

US History in Song

Lyrics to over 300 songs about American history, many with social and/or historical commentary. Songs are listed alphabetically by title, by songwriter/artist, and by subject/time period. Subjects include Songs of the Sea, The Railroad in American Song, Immigration, Labor Movement, Tragedies and Disasters, and Outlaws and Badmen (and Women). Time span is from the American Revolution through the 1960s

Resource List: For Song Leaders, Choral Conductors, & Educators, compiled by Nick Page

Nick Page is the author of two how-to music books. The first, Sing and Shine On! The Teacher's Guide to Multicultural Song Leading (Greenwood), is for classroom elementary school teachers (or any other teachers). It explains why singing and music are essential for learning and it gives detailed song leading instructions. The second book, Music As A Way Of Knowing (Stenhouse), shows how to use music to teach reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

His extensive resource list includes songbooks, resource organizations, sources for information about world and classroom instruments, periodicals and more.

American Memory Historical Collections

The American Memory Historical Collections, a major component of the Library's National Digital Library Program, are multimedia collections of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text from the Library's Americana collections. There are currently over 50 collections in the American Memory Historical Collections. This includes the Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip, and much more. (You can actually search by keyword and listen online.)

Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine

Since May of 1950, Sing Out! has been sharing songs and information about folk music. Each 200+ page issue includes complete lead sheets for 20 or more traditional and contemporary folk songs, plus feature articles and interviews, instrumental teach-ins, tons of recording and book reviews, plus regular columns on the folk process, songwriting, storytelling, and folk dance. Sing Out! also maintains a folk music "resource center" including thousands of items (recordings, photos, books, periodicals and much more) available to it's members. This site has a searchable index of songs published.

Check the Winter issue (Vol. 43 #3) for my article "Beyond Cybersex: The Internet for Folkies."

Folksong in the Classroom, P.O. Box 23, Holland MA 01521-0023

Ballad of America: A History of the United States Through Folk Song
by John Anthony Scott, John Wardlaw Scott
318 pp. book, scores, discography, 2002

"FOLKSONG IN THE CLASSROOM" was the newsletter of a network of teachers in history, literature, music and the humanities. Between 1980 and 1998, they produced 42 issues in 16 volumes. Each issue focuses on several themes or topics, and is filled with songs and stories you can take right into your classroom. They ceased publication but have compiled much of the information into a book, A BALLAD OF AMERICA, Volume III, now revised as a spiral-bound book of history lessons woven through with folksongs, with unaccompanied melodies and chord symbols. Individual purchasers of this book may make a reasonable number of copies of its materials to satisfy ordinary classroom needs.

Lornell, Kip. Introducing American Folk Music: Ethnic and Grassroot Traditions in the United States, Second Edition. McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2002.

Examines folk and closely related grassroots music,such as gospel,western swing,and folk-rock. The book covers the diverse strains of American folk music - Latin,Native American,African,French-Canadian and Cajun - and offers a chronology of the development of these musics in the United States. Each new copy of the text comes packaged with a free audio CD containing 27 recordings to accompany all the listening guides. Extensive bibliography for each section.

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Resources for Performers

Rapaport, Diane Sward. How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording. 5th ed. Prentice Hall, 1999.
Buy at

This is "the bible" for any independent artist wanting to produce their own CD.

Goldstein, Jeri. How To Be Your Own Booking Agent: A Performing Artist's Guide to A Successful Touring Career. The New Music Times, 1998. Buy at

Don't start your performing life without it! I wish this book had existed 20 years is indispensible.

Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine

Check the Winter issue (Vol. 43 #3) for my article "Beyond Cybersex: The Internet for Folkies."


An electronic discussion group for DJs and other people interested in all folk-based music on the radio. With nearly six hundred subscribers from all corners of the earth, it's a lively bunch with a unique perspective on folk music...women's radio programmers are also active here, and many DJs post their play lists. It's a great way to get the word out about your new recording. Their website is searchable by keyword...which makes it easy for performers to keep track of airplay. There are also links to more resources.

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Where to Post (and find!) Gigs and Other Events

National Women's History Project Calendar (send dates to

Feminist Events, Feminist Majority Foundation

"Dirty Linen" folk magazine

Publishes online and paper bi-monthly: Feb/March, April/May, etc Deadline is 1st of the month 2 months prior: for Feb/March, deadline is December 1. Online edition is one month later, ie one month lead time

MusiCal Concert Database

How Can I Host My Own Webpage?

This website is hosted by, whom I recommend highly. For $99 a year, you get email accounts, web stats, and a zillion other tools. They're easy to use, offer more services than any other host for the price, and also have great customer support.

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