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Recorded Music in American LifeThe Phonograph and Popular Memory, 1890-1945$
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William Howland Kenney

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195171778

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195171778.001.0001

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The Gendered Phonograph

The Gendered Phonograph

Women and Recorded Sound, 1890–1930

(p.88) 5 The Gendered Phonograph
Recorded Music in American Life

William Howland Kenney

Oxford University Press

The public history of the early phonograph business echoes with the sounds of its male inventors, entrepreneurs, and recording artists. From the crusty phonograph patriarch, Thomas Edison himself, all eyebrows and blunt curmudgeonly wisdom, to the rugged globe-hopping of Frederick Gaisberg and the big game and fly rod heroics of recorded sound tycoon Eldridge Reeves Johnson, the phonograph industry catered to male consumers, so resoundingly engraved on the vocal recordings of Enrico Caruso. The industry's growing involvement in music for domestic consumption made the phonograph into a medium for the expression of evolving female gender roles in the United States. Many American women's lives began to change in the early 20th century and women, defined as the primary audience for recorded music, responded in unforeseen ways to the recording industry's efforts to further shape their lives of domestic submission. American women quickly adopted the talking machine into their lives, as record consumers, often as retailers, and occasionally as recording artists.

Keywords:   United States, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, phonograph, women, recording industry, recorded music, talking machine, consumers, recording artists, gender roles

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