Blog Post #20: Our History: The Women of Smith College - ACADEMY OF MUSIC

By Debra J’Anthony, Executive Director

Financial support for the Northampton Players’ productions during the 1920s came from sizeable donations from Frank Lyman and subscription and pledge amounts raised by the Citizens Committee. Active members included Mrs. G. A. Elder and Miss Marion E. Dodd.  Marion Dodd attended Smith College in 1906 and furthered her studies at Columbia University Library School. She co-founded Hampshire Bookshop and published under the same for Yankee Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and the Atlantic. She taught at both Smith College and Columbia University. She and Mrs. G.A. Elder worked tirelessly to keep the Northampton Players on the Academy stage.

In May of 1926, Academy trustee and treasurer, Warren King, resigned from the board.  Miss Ella Howard, who was the Academy’s bookkeeper at the time, was to continue her service. One week later, the secretary of the board was appointed temporary treasurer. One month following, Miss Howard’s salary was increased and Frederick Plummer was elected a member of the board. At this time, Frank Lyman, who divided his time between Brooklyn Heights and Northampton, watched as his sister and nieces played increasing roles at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, which included the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.  In October of 1926, Frank Lyman motioned for Miss Ella Howard to be appointed treasurer. She was not invited onto the board.

Annetta Clark, another Smith alum involved with the Academy, taught at Springfield Business College, served as secretary to four Smith College Presidents, and was active in many community organizations. She served as a board member of the Northampton Community Chest and the Northampton Red Cross. Miss Clark was also a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Association.

Later that same year, the following members were asked by the board to present their opinions on the financial situation of the Northampton Players:  E. F. Stratton, H. E. Bicknell, Miss Annetta Clark, and Mrs. Elder. After they presented their opinions, the trustees voted to discontinue the Players.

During the 1920’s, women’s voices began to weigh in on the direction of the Academy, largely due to the strong progressive education that they received at Smith College.

Seven of the Academy’s eleven board members are now women.

The Academy will present a newly commissioned work, Nobody’s Girl, a screwball comedy featuring the theater’s first female manager, Mildred Walker. Nobody’s Girl is written by playwright Harley Erdman and directed by Sheila Siragusa.

Help us raise funds  for our world premiere screwball comedy, Nobody’s Girl, inspired by real events at the theater in the 1940s! Learn more.