The Lute Society: Microfilm Catalogue

The Lute Society Microfilm Collection

The collection currently has 424 reels of film containing 337 unique items of music or musical theory, the great majority being tablatures for lute and other plucked instruments. These have now been re-catalogued. The collection includes films owned by the Society and a substantial number from the Michael Prynne collection on loan from the University of Kent.

The condition of the films is very variable, both physically and in terms of reproduction quality. A few of them are broken and in quite a poor state, while many are still in mint condition. The quality of photography also varies. Some are difficult to read and none are up to the standard of modern high-resolution pictures. Some of the older films capture the state of an item before subsequent deterioration and are therefore historically very valuable.

In the past the Society has offered loans of films, but has decided not to continue for these reasons:

  • the collection has already lost over 20 films
  • some films, as noted above, are fragile or historically valuable
  • microfilm readers are no longer easy to access, for example at public libraries

Instead, single copies of an extract from the collection can be supplied to a member on request to the microfilm secretary. In order to preserve the rights of the copyright holder this is on the strict understanding that the extract is to be used for private study or non-commercial research and that no further copies can be made for any reason. Note that requests will be dealt with on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and no guarantee can be given as to when an extract will be available.

We are always keen to expand the collection. If you have films that you no longer use please consider donating or lending them. Also, if you are one of those who have the Society’s films on loan, please return them. No questions will be asked!

Access the Microfilm Catalogue (pdf)

Contact the Microfilm Secretary


  • December 2013: v2 - now includes additional microfilms generously donated by Peter Trent