Music Copyists Miscellaneous 1922-1962

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 898 BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT11
  • Dates of Creation
      1922 - 1962
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      Primarily English, although some papers are written in foreign languages.
  • Physical Description
      31 files (c1.5 linear feet)

Scope and Content

The files contain miscellaneous clumps of papers relating to contributions by music copyists and arrangers before 1966. (The official dates for this Registry sequence were for papers created between 1922 and 1962, but Accession Books list files as dating from the 1929 onwards. The majority of files end in 1962, a small number of files contain material up to 1965.) Paperwork can be held in relation to national, regional and overseas contributions.

These papers usually refer to copyists and arrangers who had few or no bookings with the BBC before 1963 and were not considered to have enough paperwork to warrant their own personal file. If a contributor is not listed in the run of files for RCONT1 , they may have papers listed for the RCONT11 files.

The papers include a large amount of correspondence, both internal and external. Copyists and arrangers would write to the BBC to offer their professional services, sometimes submitting examples of scores for consideration. Some of these example works are included with the correspondence. Confirmations of receipt were issued for these pieces, copies of which were kept on file.

Those copyists who were successful in gaining employment have further papers that were generated through the booking and payment process. These include internal request forms for music copying and new orchestral or chorus arrangements. Further correspondence alludes to fees and payments to the copyists.

Whilst the booking process can be followed through the papers, formal contracts with the contributors are rare in this series. These were usually issued by the Copyright Section and consequently held in the RCONT7 series. See ‘Related Units of Description’ for more details.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Central Registry administered large quantities of contracts and correspondence with contributors to various radio programmes. Different types of programme contribution required different types of contract, which were issued by different offices. Therefore, separate file sequences were held by the Central Registry for material concerning artists, speakers, scriptwriters, composers, music copyists, music publishers, children’s programmes, light entertainment and gramophone programmes. The copyright section also had its own sequence of files that covered television and radio contributors.

Whilst larger contract files were amalgamated into one sequence of personal files for main contributors, the files of smaller miscellaneous clumps retained their separate runs according to type of programme contribution and the different offices they originated from.


The series is arranged in a run of folders, each containing a number of small clumps of papers that are grouped together for each contributor. These clumps of papers were not deemed sufficiently bulky enough to warrant their own personal files, and so were filed as ‘miscellaneous’.

The papers are arranged alphabetically according to the surnames of contributors. The files containing the papers are therefore arranged in alphabetical sequence, although some popular surnames have their own separate file within the sequence.

In May 1987 the Written Archives Officer ‘weeded’ (the process of appraising and removing material deemed not to be of historical significance) the papers. A list of files was also created for the RCONT11 series, listing the names of the individuals that the papers cover. The files are unnumbered, but each file is labelled with the alphabetical range it covers.

The papers in this sequence are held within grey file covers, distinguishing them from the buff coloured personal files of RCONT1 .

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Grey files containing written material pinned in clumps.

Custodial History

These files were originally created and held by the Central Registry. Papers were forwarded to the Registry from the relevant booking departments of the BBC, who were responsible for booking artists for performances.

The continual increase in paperwork holdings led to difficulties with storage space in the late 1960s. At the time ‘nominal’ files were housed in the Central Registry, registry stores, and other locations across the BBC, such as Ware.

The process of reorganising the Central Registry holdings began towards the end of 1968. A proposal was put forward to amalgamate all holdings and then to split the files into two distinct groups according to date. Papers dating to 31 December 1962 would be stored at Caversham, whilst later papers would remain with the Registry in London. Semi-current files from 1 January 1963 to 31 December 1967 would be held in a storage area of the Langham whilst files dating from 1 January 1968 would be kept as the current group of files on the ground floor.

It was originally suggested that the grouping of files would continue in five year runs. When the ‘current’ grouping of files reached the end of the five year period they would be moved to the store to make space for new run of files to be opened on the ground floor. Those already held in store would be transferred to Caversham. This arrangement led to the first three sequences of radio contributor files covering the following periods; circa 1922 to 1962, 1963 to 1967, and 1968 to 1972. However, in 1976 the Chief Registry and Records Officer suggested that the next split should be made after 10 years rather than 5 due to space and the costs incurred by the purchase of new file covers.

In 1975 the Written Archives Centre in Caversham assumed responsibility for the pre-1963 files it had been storing on behalf of the Central Registry. These files would be accessioned as the RCONT1 series. The Written Archives Centre also assumed responsibility for the concurrent runs of ‘miscellaneous’ files, which were accessioned as RCONT2 - RCONT11 .

Due to the transfer of the files from being stored to permanently held at Caversham, the date that these files were received by the Written Archives Centre has been recorded as 1975 in the accession books.

Related Material

BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT1 is a concurrent run that consists of files for individual contributors. The files hold correspondence and contractual papers before 1963. These are “main” files where there were sufficient papers on one contributor to warrant personal files with individual titles. The files for these contributors from different departments were amalgamated into one run within the RCONT1 series.

BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT2 - RCONT10 are concurrent runs of miscellaneous papers dating before 1963. Similar to RCONT11 , they hold the papers of those who generated an insufficient quantity of material to warrant the creation of a personal file. They originated from the different departments under radio and hold papers for those who were not classed as music copyists or arrangers. The RCONT7 series consists of files dealing with requests for permission and payment to individuals or bodies for the use of their copyright material in television and radio programmes.

Later radio contributor papers are held in continuing sequences under the sub-sub-fonds BBC/R/RCONT: Radio Artists and Contributors .

The sub-sub-fonds BBC/T/TVART: Television Artists and Contributors holds equivalent files for this period for television contributors in the TVART1 and TVART2 series. Later papers are held in continuing sequences in this section.

The sub-fonds BBC/NR: Nations and Regions holds contributor files for bookings that were made outside of London ( BBC/NR/M: Midlands Region, BBC/NR/NI: Northern Ireland, BBC/NR/N: North Region, BBC/NR/SC: Scotland, BBC/NR/SE: South East Region, BBC/NR/SW: South West Region, BBC/NR/WA: Wales and BBC/NR/WE: West Region ). Some artists may have papers in both the sub-sub-fonds BBC/R/RCONT and sub-fonds BBC/NR .

Long Term Contracts for contributors may be found in separate series under BBC/T/TVART/T49 for television and BBC/R/RCONT/R94 for radio.

See BBC/R/R77: Music Copyists for further related papers.