Claimed From Stationers Hall: 18th and 19th century music in Scottish (and other) copyright libraries

‘Claimed from Stationers’ Hall’ was an AHRC-funded research network (2017-2018), bringing together academic and special collections librarians, book historians and musicologists, to explore the afterlives of music distributed to the old – and more numerous – legal deposit libraries prior to 1836.

The almost-intact survival of the legal deposit music collection at the University of St Andrews sparked off Dr Karen McAulay’s research into an early handwritten catalogue by Miss Elizabeth Lambert, niece of one of the St Andrews professors, along with the borrowing registers of that era, raising interesting questions as to the kind of music borrowed, and by whom, at different times between ca.1800 and 1836.  Karen had been alerted to the collection by St Andrews lecturer Dr Jane Pettegree, and they had performed some of the music from a particularly interesting volume at a lunchtime concert in St Andrews, prior to the founding of the ‘Claimed from Stationers’ Hall network’.  The compiler of this volume seems deliberately to have assembled material composed by women, and songs relating to the Napoleonic Wars (see the featured image at the head of this post). [editor: this female Scottish interest in the war effort connects with flute music found in the Atholl Collection in Perth, written about in an earlier 2022 Soundyngs post).

Having learned a great deal about the collection in St Andrews, the network was founded by Karen McAulay, Principal Investigator, to explore what had happened to copyright music collections in all the other legal deposit libraries, investigating what survived; what had not survived; what was never even collected by some libraries; and the challenges associated with curating the materials today.  It proved a very good means of bringing together specialists from different fields, to share knowledge not only with each other, but to a wider audience through publication.

A workshop was held at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for interested participants, when the Vol.40 songs were again performed by Dr McAulay and Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland (also of RCS).

Key publications include an entire dedicated issue of Brio, the journal of the United Kingdom and Ireland Branch of the International Association, with articles contributed by network members; an article in the Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society; and a co-authored article by Drs McAulay and Robertson-Kirkland in The Trafalgar Chronicle.

There was also a blog, Claimed From Stationers Hall, which included an extensive bibliography about music copyright, largely in the historical context but also including some very contemporary research writings of different kinds.

Further Reading

Elizabeth Lambert, Music Catalogue [in 2 Volumes, Compiled by Miss Lambert in 1826] (St Andrews, 1826) Produced by Miss Elizabeth Lambert, later married name Williams. In Special Collections, St Andrews University Library StAUL, UYLY108/1, Music Catalogue, 1826, vol. 1-2.

Karen E. McAulay, ‘”Claimed from Stationers” Hall’: Papers from an AHRC-Funded Network Project’, in Brio, Special Issue, 56(2), (2019)

Karen E. McAulay, ‘A Music Library for St Andrews: Use of the University’s Copyright Music Collections, 1801-1849’, Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, 15 (2020), 13–33

———, ‘Bibliography [Claimed from Stationers’ Hall]’, Scottish Music Publishers 1880-1950 (& Earlier Stationers’ Hall Research), 2018

———, ‘Claimed From Stationers’ Hall: Research Network Blog’ (2017)

———, ‘Claimed from Stationers’ Hall: St Andrews Copyright Music Collection | Echoes from the Vault

Karen E. McAulay and Brianna Elyse Robertson-Kirkland, ‘“My Love to War Is Going”: Women and Song in the Napoleonic Era’’, Trafalgar Chronicle, New Series (2018), 202–12

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