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History of the MU

Having been originally founded as the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union in Manchester in 1893, the archives of the Union provide a fascinating record of the experiences and struggles of the Kingdom throughout the decades.

Last updated: 25 March 2022

Housed in the University of Stirling Archives, the collection consists of the records of the Central and District offices of the Union and over 60 Branches (across England, Scotland and Wales).

The administrative records of the Union include accounts, annual and monthly reports, concert programmes, conference papers, correspondence files, directories, election papers, membership material, minute books, photographs, press cuttings, strike material and papers relating to campaigns led and supported by the Union. Full runs of the many publications produced by the Union since 1893 are also present.

As well as preserving and recording the activities of the Union, the archive provides a unique perspective on British cultural and political life.

A wide range of cultural developments, political campaigns and historical events are reflected in the archive including: the sinking of the Titanic; the impact of the talkies on cinema orchestras; and the struggle of women musicians for recognition.

MU Social History

The MU has also launched a social history website

Drawing on a range of sources, including archives and interviews with members, this unique project aims to reveal how the MU has shaped musical, cultural and political life in the UK.

The ongoing work culminated in a conference and exhibition in 2016. To track the progress of the research, and to uncover hidden gems about the history of the Musicians’ Union, visit