A Breathless Whirl

Edinburgh_-_University_Library_01-e1478712223864This week, I visited Elizabeth Quarmby-Lawrence at Edinburgh University Library, where we had a very useful discussion about library history, legal deposit, and the fate of the University’s legal deposit music.  Some great ideas arose out of our chat, of which more anon!  I now have more to read, more people to make contact with, and a brand-new copy of the University’s recent publication, Directory of Collections, edited by Head of Special Collections Joseph Marshall, and published by Third Millenium Publishing in 2016 (ISBN: 9781908990891).

This morning, I have made a start on the bibliography that will be one of the outcomes of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research network project.  The coverage is already looking good, but bibliographical pride prevents me from putting it online quite yet!

And if all that isn’t breathless enough, then the press release about a new Adam Matthew Digital online resource, Literary Print Culture: The Stationers’ Company Archive, is enough to make any bibliographer’s heartbeat race.  There’s a video about the database, here.


Open Invitation to Join the Conversation

Stationers Hall fabricAnyone with a research interest in early UK legal deposit music, its publication, its distribution or subsequent curation and use, can join the network.  If you let us know your email address, you can be added to the mailing list.  (You’ll find our contact details here.)  You can also follow on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

To take your involvement to the next level, why not consider joining our Jisc mailing list, which allows us to discuss with one another in a safe and supportive environment.

The AHRC-funded Claimed From Stationers Hall music research network gets a JiscMail Discussion List

JiscMail offers the facility to set up discussion lists about education or research interests on a particular topic, carried out by email.  Correspondents generally have some connection with higher education, but this is not compulsory.

We have set up a list for sharing information about research interests in the historic British legal deposit music registered at Stationers Hall, and our groupname is MUSIC-FROM-STATIONERS-HALL.

How to subscribe?  Basically, there are two ways of subscribing:-

  1.  You can use this link: https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?SUBED1=MUSIC-FROM-STATIONERS-HALL&A=1 New subscribers can complete their details to join the list.
  2. Subscribers can also join the list by sending an email to listserv@jiscmail.ac.uk as follows:-

Subject: Subscribe Message: SUBSCRIBE MUSIC-FROM-STATIONERS-HALL Firstname Lastname

You should receive a confirmation email; if it doesn’t pop up in your inbox, it may be worth checking “junk” or other filter folders.  You then need to confirm the Jisc confirmation, quite promptly (otherwise they assume you didn’t mean to subscribe)!  Please get in touch if you have any problems.


  1. You’ll find instructions at the FAQ for Subscribers page: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/help/subscribers/faq.html.
  2. What is JiscMail?  Visit http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/about/whatisjiscmail.html
  3. Can I use institutional access?  Certainly.  If you’re in a British HE institution, you can use institutional access (Shibboleth), as you would with most electronic resources.
  4. Are there any rules?  The JiscMail Service Policy document, http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/policyandsecurity/ describes the way in which Jisc expects the service to be used, by list owners and subscribers.


We’re also aiming to set up a workshop of some kind in early Spring 2018, so do watch this space.

Social Media Activity

Please feel free to tweet, “like” or share on Facebook, and generally make a big noise about this exciting new venture.   (I made a Pinterest board, for what it’s worth – I read that it was a good marketing tool.  At the moment I’m not quite sure …!)

Could You be a Guest Blogger?

I’m trying to blog at least weekly, and have also posted three podcasts to date, so do keep looking in.  But this is a network – so we need more bloggers!  Here’s your opportunity to raise your research profile.  Could you offer a guest-blogpost to this blog on any topic that has some loose connection with early British legal deposit music, its libraries, the publishers, the composers or music users? Or do you know anyone who has any expertise about legal deposit in other nations in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?  This would all be exciting, too!  (We’ve had two offers along these lines already, which we are very much enthused about.)  If anyone has even a little half-idea about something that you could share, please do get in touch.  Blogposts should be approximately 500-1000 words, but please run your idea past us first before you start writing it.  We’re hoping to post a guest-blogpost roughly once a month, but more would  be welcome, of course.

Networking is the Name of The Game

Pinterest British Library Spiders Web

The first network steering group meeting took place a couple of weeks ago, and in the past week more networking has taken place.  I’ve already blogged about Monday’s highly satisfactory meeting with retired University of Aberdeen music librarian Richard Turbet, in Norfolk.

Back in Glasgow, on Friday I attended a collaborators’ meeting for another new network, this time at the University of Glasgow: the Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded Romantic National Song Network.  It is spearheaded by Principal Investigator Professor Kirsteen McCue and Postdoctoral Research Assistant Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland.  My own doctoral research was about late 18th and 19th century Scottish song-collecting; I had examined collections both with and without accompaniments.  The new network focuses largely on collections with accompaniments, and certainly – like my own research – on collections with music, aka, “songs with their airs”.

Although the focus of my research has changed slightly since my PhD, I can see that the work I did on the borrowing of “national song” collections from St Andrews University library could be pertinent in the context of the RNSN.  I am also enthusiastic about the possibility of revisiting some of my favourite nineteenth century Scottish song collections!

Mrs Bertram’s Music Borrowing: Reading Between the Lines

Moving on to another research network, I recently wrote a blogpost for the EAERN (Eighteenth-century Arts Education Research Network) .  “Mrs Bertram’s Music Borrowing” occupied quite a few evening hours when I stumbled across a reference to her in my perusal of the early nineteenth-century St Andrews University borrowing records, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to write it up in to a coherent piece for EAERN.  Yes, I’ve stretched a point – we’re talking about the long eighteenth-century here!  Nonetheless, I think it will demonstrate the value of interrogating archival records in minute detail.  After my many years spent cataloguing music materials for the Whittaker Library, my endurance levels for dealing with repetitive detail are exceptionally high!  It’s very rewarding when hours of capturing data can be turned into a human story about someone who lived, breathed and – most importantly – borrowed music from the library!  Do visit the EAERN website.

And lastly – some more networking news about the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network.  We now have a Facebook page:- https://www.facebook.com/ClaimedStatHall/ – and I’ve also set up a Jiscmail list, so at some stage this week I’ll be sharing details with people whom I think might be interested in joining in the discussion about this fascinating, but often overlooked body of music.

What does St Andrews have in common with Vanity Fair?

I’ve just written a blogpost about one of the Copyright Music borrowers, to go on the Eighteenth-Century Arts Education Research Network blog.  It’s not published yet – but won’t be long.  Watch this space!  We’re looking at mid-September.

Caleb Concord! What kind of Pseudonym is that?

Auld, Patrick Campbell, 1813-1866; The Demolition of Marischal College
Demolition of Marischal, 1837 Painting by Patrick Campbell Auld, from Art.uk

In historical musicological research, sometimes apparently inconsequential names assume disproportionate importance. This was the fate of Caleb Concord this week.  Apparently a contributor to the Aberdeen Censor – a journal which only lasted 13 months from January 1824 to January 1825, Dominie (schoolmaster) Concord submitted his autobiography in four lengthy letters, and in one of them, he opined that the Marischal students should be more concerned about what had happened to the Stationers’ Hall music.

This raised more questions than answers.  I went to read the journal at the National Library of Scotland.  Concord appears several times in the journal, including a couple of letters to the editor, quite apart from his autobiographical contributions.  The pieces are very tongue in cheek (viz, his wives’ names, their characterisation – and a flattened cat!).  His name also appears in another contemporary Aberdonian book by someone else delighting in not one but two pseudonyms (a common enjoyment in the 1820s).  But you won’t find Concord in genealogical or newspaper sources online, and I’ve been fortunate to have made contact with perhaps the only person who could immediately provide an identification.  Behind the pseudonym lurked a very real person, but not the person I thought!

Concord claimed to be a good singer and piper, teacher not only in school but also of songs and psalmody on Thursday nights!, and a kirk session clerk.  Last week, I conjectured that he could have  been the schoolmaster of Footdee and session clerk of St Nicholas Parish, one William Smith, in the 1824 Aberdeen post office directory, maybe even a brother of the publisher, bookseller Lewis Smith.  I was completely wrong!  Iain Beavan has generously provided a positive identification, which we’ll divulge in due course.  Whether ‘Concord’ was musical remains to be seen!

Now, one might ask whether his identity actually matters one iota?!

Aberdeen Censor illustration rotated
Illustration at front of Aberdeen Censor

The most important thing about “Caleb Concord” is his observation about the Marischal  students, and it’s intriguing because at that time, the Marischal students had virtually no access either to their own college library or to the library of King’s College Aberdeen – and it was King’s College that received the Stationers’ Hall legal deposit materials.  Last year, Iain Beavan wrote a fascinating article, ‘Marischal College Library, Aberdeen, in the Nineteenth Century: an Overview’, in Library and Information History 31:4 (258-279).  It is clear that students in the early to mid 19th century had a very raw deal as far as libraries were concerned, and the animosity between the two colleges extended for many decades on account of King’s College’s determination to keep hold of the legal deposit books.

What we do know, from Barry Cooper and Richard Turbet’s bibliographical work on the Aberdeen early music holdings, is that not much survives from before 1801, and some 4000 items survive from after this.  Iain Beavan has found reference to the possibility that some of the Stationers’ Hall music might have been sold, and that’s a matter of some interest.  Certainly, the debate was raging about legal deposit holdings in Aberdeen, and it is not surprising that the public debate should be referred to in a local journal.


Networking Fast and Furiously (Prestissimo)

Karen’s research persona is most active on Wednesdays and Thursday mornings, so a certain amount of networking has already taken place on Twitter, email and by phone this week.

Looking for role models, we’ve eagerly noted some highly successful ones – Sound Heritage, operating from the University of Southampton; The Ladies Magazine, at the University of Kent; and the new EAERN (Eighteenth-Century Arts Education Research Network) at the University of Glasgow.  All have an interest in eighteenth and nineteenth century culture, and all are great at networking, so we hope they’ll soon be our new best friends!

We’ve also been looking for conference CFPs, and have noted a new one which looks eminently suitable – Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700-Present.  Taking place 18th-19th April 2018 in Edinburgh, a quick read of the conference’s scope makes the bound volumes of St Andrews’ Copyright Music Collection very appropriate artefacts to talk about!  An abstract is already being stitched together in mind, if not yet words on paper.  sewing GIF

Much of this week’s research time has been spent going through every word of the AHRC application, and listing every outcome that we aspired to in our documentation.  A beautiful spreadsheet has thus been born, and will be nurtured most carefully in coming months.  The newborn network has a number of conferences in its sightline, but we can’t run before we can walk, so we’ll check some dates and deadlines before we do anything else!

Meanwhile – if you like what you’ve seen here, please do follow the blog, befriend us on Twitter @ClaimedStatHall, get in touch with Karen by email at RCS or even pick up the phone!



18-19 April 2018

Today’s the Day! New Network, Claimed From Stationers’ Hall (early copyright music)

This is officially the start of the new AHRC-funded network, Claimed From Stationers Hall.  A fuller blogpost will appear within the next 24 hours.  Have a wander round the website, and please do get in touch if you’d like to be added to the email mailing list.  The topic is the music that was registered at Stationers’ Hall in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries up to 1836, so if you have an interest in music publishing of that era, or indeed anything involving British-published sheet music and its performance, or its documentation whether through conventional bibliographic means or in the context of digital humanities … then we’d love to hear from you!

 music history copyright legal deposit GIF

(Never let a musicologist near a gif! I promise to do better ….)