Dr Alice Little

Research Associate, Bate Collection of Musical Instruments

Junior Research Fellow in Music/History, Corpus Christi College; Humanities Knowledge Exchange Fellow, 2019-20


Alice’s research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century national music (traditional or folk music), the history of collecting, and musical instruments. Her wider interests include social and cultural history, particularly of eighteenth-century England, and she is associated with the Oxford Centre for Life Writing. Her Knowledge Exchange Fellowship involves a partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and relates to the eighteenth-century manuscript tunebooks held at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. At the Bate Collection she is responsible for the Anthony Baines Archive Project.


Alice studied for her doctorate in the Music Faculty at Oxford from 2015-18, and holds an MSc in Material Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and a BA in Modern History, both also from the University of Oxford. Her doctoral project focused on the life and collection of J. B. Malchair (1730-1812), who collected ‘national music’ in Oxford from 1760-1795. As well as the collecting of music, this research encompasses the work of William Crotch, Malchair’s artwork, and networks of musical friendship in eighteenth-century Oxford. Prior to studying for her DPhil, Alice worked at several museums and collections, including the Horniman Museum (Forest Hill, London), the British Museum (London), and the Royal Military School of Music Museum (Twickenham).

The Anthony Baines Archive Project involves cataloguing and conducting research using the archive of the Collection’s first curator, Anthony Baines. Baines was at the Bate from 1970-82, and the archive contains his research into musical instruments from a wide range of periods and cultures. The archive also holds documentation relating to Baines’ time as a prisoner of war, and some of his botanical drawings. As well as shedding light on Baines’ biography and the Bate’s institutional history, this project investigates how and why Baines collected those musical instruments he later donated to the Bate Collection, and what the documentation in the archive reveals about the instruments themselves.

Selected Publications

‘‘For the sake of difference among them’: John Malchair’s tune comparisons, 1760-95′. Folk Music Journal (forthcoming 2019)

‘John Malchair: tune-collecting in 18th-Century England’. A Handbook for Studies in 18th-Century English Music, XXI:71-88 (2017)

‘‘Good morning, ladies and gentlemen’: songs, music and musical instruments in the Percy Manning collection’ in M Heaney (ed), Percy Manning: The Man Who Collected Oxfordshire. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2017, pp. 221-255

‘Percy Manning, Henry Balfour, Thomas Carter, and the Collecting of Traditional English Musical Instruments’. Folk Music Journal 11.1:25-41 (2016)

‘‘Captain Kennedy’s Mandolin’, and other English musical instruments at the University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum’. Journal of Museum Ethnography 23:117-128 (2010)

‘Whit-Horn’; ‘Kennedy’s Mandolin’; ‘Whittle and Dub’: three object biographies published online as part of the Pitt Rivers Museum’s Englishness Project, The Other Within (2008)

‘Free and Squeezy: The New Web Catalogue at the Horniman Museum’. Papers of the International Concertina Association, Volume 5:96-7 (2008)


Dr Alice Little,
Bate Collection,
Faculty of Music,
Oxford. OX1 1DB

Tel: 01865 286262

E-mail: alice.little@music.ox.ac.uk