Frequently Asked Questions

How did the EMI Archive Trust start?

The EMI Archive Trust was established in 1996 with Ruth Edge, Sir Colin Southgate, David Hughes, Ken Townsend and William Cavendish as the original trustees.

The main aims of the charity (no. 1056254) are:

  • the advancement of education and research into the history of the sound recording industry
  • to promote the study of the development of sound recording
  • to preserve and protect the collection for the nation
  • where appropriate, the acquisition of other documentation, materials and artefacts to enhance the educational and historical benefit of the collection.

What is the EMI Archive Trust?

The Trust managed by a board of trustees, chaired by Caryn Tomlinson, and includes Tony Wadsworth, David Hughes, Dave Holley, Chris Kennedy, Emily Mullins, Richard O’ Brien, Chris Ancliff, Richard Lyttleton, Wayne Shevlin, Nick Williams, Peter Duckworth and Ross Foster.

The following staff carry out the day to day duties, based in Hayes:

Joanna Hughes, Heritage Curator

What is in the EMI Archive collection?

The EMI Group Archive Trust has an internationally important collection of museum artefacts relating to all aspects of the company’s history. Highlights include the gramophone which Captain Scott took to the Antarctic and the original ‘His Masters Voice’ painting by Francis Barraud.

Paper Collection

– A unique collection of record and gramophone catalogues from around the world
– Artist Files for the majority of artists who have recorded for EMI, including general correspondence, recording sheets and contracts to 1946
– Matrix Cards of EMI recordings and associated early Recording Ledgers

Recorded Music Store

– Extensive collection of records issued by EMI and its associated labels worldwide from 1898 – 1946
– 78rpm metal masters including HMV, Columbia, Parlophone, Odeon and Fonotopia labels to 1946

Museum Store

– Playback devices, from phonographs and gramophones to stereograms and reel-to-reel tape players 
– Extensive collection of ‘Nipperia’ 
– Radios and televisions from the 1930’s to early 60’s 
– HMV domestic appliances from the 1940’s and 50’s, including electric shavers to irons 
– Material relating to the development of sound recording, including acoustic horns, microphones and lathes 
– Corporate items including trophies from inter-departmental tournaments, paintings and items from past chairmen 
– Francis Barraud ‘His Master’s Voice’ paintings 


– Large collection of photographs covering all aspects of EMI’s history from company beginning to 1946

Where are the collections held?


The EMI Archives, Hayes

The National Media Museum in Bradford (TV collection)


Universal Music, Germany – artefacts

How is the EMI Archive Trust funded?

Universal Music Group

The EMI Archive Trust is wholly supported by Universal Music Group, the global leader in music-based entertainment, the administration of The Trust is undertaken by a Board of renowned independent Trustees, with pro-bono support from Universal Music Group employees.

Annual Report

EMI Archive Trust activities

The Trust has a remit to promote its own collection and to provide public benefit. Examples of how it has achieved this in the last year are below. The Trust’s curator gives tours of the museum store, assists academic researchers and maintains a web site and blog.

  • Contributed photos and artefacts to the local exhibition ‘Made In Hayes’, illustrating the history of EMI buildings.
  • Provided film and education resource packs to a reminiscence day for former EMI staff in Hayes
  • Provided a short film for a local film festival
  • Loaned artefacts to major museum exhibitions

Use of Trust assets by EMI

Under the existing deeds of gift, the gifting companies retain the rights to borrow items from the Trust on short-term loan for commercial purposes and to the “income-generating” properties of Trust material. Examples are EMI Records, EMI Electrola, Thorn and Capitol.

EMI Records UK used its access mainly for commercial music releases, which included transferring audio from 78s and metals at Abbey Road, artwork and research for classical booklets and box sets. There were two key heritage releases where the Trust was a major collaborator and EMI agreed that the Trust should received part of the income – “Scott’s Music” and “Empire Broadcast Message by King George VI 1939”.

EMI Synch and licensing departments (UK and internationally) dealt with and charged for third party requests for transfers of Trust 78s and photos or catalogue artwork.

PR activities included TV and radio documentaries, exhibitions (e.g. Olympics display in the FCO and piece for BBC Breakfast, Abbey Road 80th anniversary lectures), books (Abbey Road 80th anniversary).

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