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The Horniman’s collected archives comprise material that has been acquired from external sources because of its direct relevance to the museum’s three subject areas of Anthropology, Musical Instruments and Natural History. The material acts as a primary source for the contextualisation of object collections and for further research.

The collected archives include the following material:


  • Beryl de Zoete collection
  • Fieldwork documentation

Musical Instruments

  • Adam Carse collection
    As well as the personal library of Adam Carse, this collection contains research papers, manuscript notes, copies of lectures, correspondence, makers catalogues, sales lists and concert programmes.
  • Boosey & Hawkes archive
    This archive provides an unprecedented level of information about the manufacture, use and design of instruments. Production records, product catalogues and price lists allow surviving instruments to be traced by serial number and, along with 4000 technical drawings of instruments and the tools used to make them, enable researchers to gain a more accurate view of instrument production and consumption.
  • Dolmetsch collection
  • Neil Wayne concertina collection
    This collection contains a wealth of information about the firm C. Wheatstone & Co. and the concertinas it sold. Factory ledgers document the firm's fortunes from May 1834 to December 1891, provide serial numbers, dates of sale, and often the names of purchasers. They also list some of the specific tasks of the factory workers. You can read digitised copies of the ledgers online. It also includes Neil Wayne’s research material and some of the following material relating to concertinas: tutors and instruction books, copies of 19th century patents, press cuttings, makers' and dealers' catalogues, and price lists. 
  • Eric McGavin collection
    Eric McGavin's career as an instrument tuner, music educator, and researcher into the history, development and manufacture of woodwind and brass instruments, is recorded in this collection, with particular emphasis on the clarinet, oboe and bassoon. Dating principally from McGavin's employment with Boosey & Hawkes Ltd. in 1950, until his death in 1970, the records include notes, resources and manuscripts compiled to support his series of talks, lectures and publications on musicology, instrument care and manufacture, and school music education. It also includes around 440 photographs of McGavin at work, his music students, various 20th century musicians, and instruments held in the Boosey & Hawkes Museum (many of which are now held in our collections).

Natural History

  • Walter. H. Bennett (Palaeontology)
  • Edward Hart papers (Taxidermy)
  • Arthur Wyatt (Geology)

Institutional archive

The Museum records contain material relating to the organisation’s history, development and activities since its foundation in 1898, including:

  • the founding of the museum
  • the history and provenance of its object collections

Publications and research

In 1901 the Horniman Museum was passed to the London County Council; consequently, many of the organisation’s administrative records from the period circa 1901 to circa 1990 are deposited and available for research at the London Metropolitan Archives. Many of the records are searchable via the London Metropolitan Archives online catalogue.

The museum is not a repository for the personal papers of the Horniman family: sadly, very little information relating to these individuals appears to have survived. Biographies and further sources of information about family members will be added to our online collections.


The museum is currently cataloguing its archive collections. As part of this long term programme the material will be documented according to international standards and made available as part of our online collections.

Access to the collections

The archives collection is currently available by prior appointment. Please contact enquiry@horniman.ac.uk.