The Robert Shelton Archive

The creation of the Robert Shelton Archive was possible due to the kind donation of the personal library of writings, books, recordings and research material of the late author and journalist who died in December 1995. Designed as a collective resource for students and researchers, the archive provides a number of research opportunities. The archive includes an entire collection of Shelton’s American writing from 1958 until 1969. 

As a folk music critic for the New York Times, Shelton was instrumental in giving wider recognition to many figures in the US folk revival. He gave the first serious coverage to artists such as Odetta, Sonny Boy Williamson, The Rev. Gary Davies, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, and he is widely recognized for his authoritative Dylan biography, No Direction Home. By the mid 1960s Shelton’s remit had expanded to include rock music, and he wrote a series of influential pieces that included the first review of Simon and Garfunkel, and the first East Coast appearances of Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin and Sly and the Family Stone.

The archive houses invaluable research material used in the writing of No Direction Home, along with research materials and drafts for all Shelton’s published works, including the books The Country Music Story, The Face of Folk Music, The Electric Muse and his later freelance work for various publications. Aside from Shelton’s own work, the collection also includes a multitude of rare folk and rock journals and an extensive cuttings archive covering thirty years’ worth of materials. The Experience Music Project in Seattle also has a collection of materials on Shelton. Together, both organizations provide an invaluable insight into Shelton’s work and life. 

  • The Robert Pring Mill Collection

In 1996 the IPM received a generous donation from the esteemed scholar Robert Pring-Mill. The main emphasis of the collection is on Latin American committed song, and it comprises of hundreds of sound recordings and printed materials relating to Spanish American folk culture. This strong collection is backed with parallel material from Spain, Brazil, Italy and the USA as well as a smaller collection from the UK, Germany and Canada. 

  • The Mikis Theodorakis Collection

The School holds a significant collection of materials relating to the internationally renowned Greek composer and political activist, Mikis Theodorakis, kindly donated by Mr Kostas Melitsiotis. The collection includes scores, books, CDs and documents. 

  • The Sylvia Patterson Jazz Collection

A collection of jazz recordings donated by the journalist and broadcaster Sylvia Patterson. They comprise a varied and diverse selection of records and tapes, reflecting the long history and development of the jazz sound and style during the twentieth century. 

  • The Radio City FM Collection

Thousands of vinyl 7” singles donated by Liverpool’s local independent radio station Radio City FM. The singles date from the 1960s to the 1980s and comprise a variety of music genres, styles and movements. 

  • The Karl Dallas Folk & Traditional Music Archive
  • The David Friedman Collection


  • The Eddie Calvert Collection
  • The Radio Merseyside Session Reel-to-Reel Collection
  • The Mackenzie Dance Band Collection

The archives are supported by listening facilities and are accessible by special arrangement to students and researchers. Efforts continue to secure access for the general public, which is dependent on grant applications and fundraising initiatives. 

The Institute of Popular Music has staged major exhibitions featuring materials from the archive, including Pop, Passion and Politics, Mixcase, and The Beat Goes On.

  • Music Journalism Collection

The Institute of Popular Music holds a wide range of music magazines from the early 1980s onwards including Mojo, Q and The Face, music press broad sheets (New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Sounds and Black Echo) and music industry publications such as Music Week and Billboard. It also holds a selection of popular music biographies kindly donated by Dave Harker.


In 2002 the IPM became the official office of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM). IASPM was founded in 1981 to promote inquiry, scholarship and analysis in popular music. It has since grown into a large international network with over 700 members worldwide. On national and international levels, the organization's activities include conferences, publications, and research projects designed to advance an understanding of popular music and the processes involved in its production and consumption.

Scholars from the IPM were among the key founders of IASPM. Current IPM staff Marion Leonard, Sara Cohen, Anahid Kassabian, and Freya Jarman have all been previous members of the IASPM International Executive Committee, as have former IPM PhD students Violeta Mayer and Emila Barna. PhD students attached to the IPM have also served on the Executive Committee of the IASPM’s UK/Ireland branch, including Holly Tessler and Aine Mangoang.

The IPM now acts as the sole central repository for all IASPM archival materials, and is responsible for co-ordinating the preservation and continued maintenance of these important resources.