Barbara Holdridge co-founded Caedmon Records in 1952 with Marianne Mantell. Their woman-owned business pioneered the concept and most significant treasury of spoken word literary recordings featuring great writers and outstanding actors of the 20th century. The success of Caedmon Records launched the spoken word industry, created a broad audience for diverse, high quality literature, and helped lay the foundation for today’s audio books industry.
The Caedmon catalog is extraordinary for the dramatic gender equality and cultural inclusiveness it achieved. It expanded the audience for American women’s writing and women’s writing in general. Ms. Holdridge bridged many different cultures and voices, establishing a legacy of recordings that are a vast resource of American cultural history, at a time when publishing was not open to women’s writing or cultural diversity.
She also discovered and documented with her husband, Lawrence Holdridge, the American Portrait painter Ammi Phillips. Phillips was responsible for 700 portraits, many attributed to other artists or to “anonymous.” After the successful sale of Caedmon, Ms. Holdridge founded Stemmer House Publishers, devoted to fine illustrated books and a small list of spoken word recordings.