Dr Alice Little

Alice's research focuses on collectors and collecting. At the Bate Collection she is responsible for the Baines Project, which has involved cataloguing the archive of Anthony Baines, the Collection's first Curator. Anthony Baines was Curator/Lecturer at the Bate from 1970-82, and the archive contains his research into musical instruments from a wide range of periods and cultures as well as documentation relating to Baines’s time as a prisoner of war and some of his botanical drawings. Alice has published two books based on her research with this archive: the first, a biographical catalogue of the Archive (published 2021), is available to buy in the Museum; the second will be available in 2024.


Alice’s DPhil focused on the tunebooks of J. B. Malchair (1730-1812), who collected ‘national music’ in Oxford from 1760-1795. This research also encompassed the work of William Crotch, Malchair’s artwork, and networks of musical friendship in eighteenth-century Oxford. Alice’s subsequent work on eighteenth-century music collections (including two Knowledge Exchange Fellowships, 2019-21) focuses on manuscript and printed tunebooks and their compilers, looking at what sources the collections were gathered from and what the selection of music says about the people and cultures who collected and used them. In 2023-24 she has secured funding from TORCH’s Humanities Cultural Programme for a series of public engagement events to accompany an exhibition at the Weston Library, The Dancing Master, which features a range of dance and music books and musical instruments, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Playford.


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). In addition to her doctorate she holds an MSc in Material Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, and a BA in Modern History, both also from the University of Oxford.


Her website is alicelittle.co.uk and you can find her on social media @littleamiss


‘Authorship and Authenticity in John and William Crotch’s Original Airs (1803)’, in Andrew Woolley (ed), Authorship and Authorial Identity in Historical Keyboard Music. London: Routledge, forthcoming 2023

The Anthony Baines Archive. Oxford: Bate Colllection, 2021

‘‘For the sake of difference among them’: John Malchair’s tune comparisons, 1760-95′. Folk Music Journal 11.5:52-66 (2020)

‘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)

History of collecting: collectors, collections, materiality and objects

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century national music (traditional or folk music)