This is the blog for the AHRC-funded network, Claimed from Stationers’ Hall: the United Kingdom’s Historical Copyright Music Collections, which commenced in August 2017 for 14 months. I’ve written a brief podcast about the project, which you can listen to here.
The project concerns sheet music surviving in British legal deposit libraries during the period 1710-1836 under the 1709 Copyright Act legislation. Although not all music was actually registered at Stationers’ Hall, even the music that was registered, didn’t always make it to all the copyright libraries, despite the universities’ efforts. Equally, not all the music reaching libraries at that time survives today.
The project seeks to identify the patterns of survival in different libraries, and to establish how accessible the material is through online catalogues. Exploring the history of British-published music in all British legal deposit libraries, this project also offers an opportunity for networking from all relevant disciplines, eg musicologists, music and rare books librarians, book and cultural historians. Essentially, we’re asking the questions, What happened to the music? What was sent to libraries? What was retained in libraries? And what use was made of it once it got there? Principal Investigator Karen McAulay, a postdoctoral researcher and performing arts librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, has made a close study of historical legal deposit music surviving at the University of St Andrews – and the stories from that collection have prompted her to explore the wider picture across the UK by establishing the present network for this very purpose.