Our research policy

The following outlines the collections, access, and research policy of the National Jazz Archive.


Our vision

The National Jazz Archive vision is to


Our commitment

The National Jazz Archive is commited to:


Our Policy

The National Jazz Archive holds the finest and most extensive collection of printed material relating to jazz in the UK along with a significant collection of oral history recordings and some iconic objects.

The collection includes books, programmes, journals, posters, photographs and ephemera. It also holds the personal collections of a number of key individuals in jazz including artists, writers and photographers.

The Archive is a primary source for historical information on jazz and related music. It includes over 800 journal titles and over 2,000 programmes dating back to the 1920’s, including many complete runs; over 4,500 books; over 25,000 photographic images, including many that are unique; one of the most extensive collection of jazz related posters in Europe; autograph books with signed entries from iconic jazz artists and some lesser known; plus the letters, diaries and other personal memorabilia of important jazz artists and writers.

We continue to receive and to seek donations which enhance the collection.

The Archive actively collects contemporary material for the benefit of future generations and is in the process of developing a born digital collection policy.

Our acquisitions policy is outlined in The National Jazz Archive Collections Policy. This is kept under regular review and can be read online.


Access to the Archive in person

The Archive is free to use and open to everyone. We aim to provide the widest possible access to our holdings and we welcome visitors with a diverse range of interests and research needs.

The collections are held at three principal sites:

The location of individual items or collections may be found in our on-line catalogue, through an email enquiry, or by telephone to our research archivist during normal opening hours at Loughton.  The contact details and opening hours can be found on our Contact Page.

All users to the sites at Loughton and Birmingham are asked to sign our visitors’ book on arrival. Signing this book signifies acceptance of our conditions of use.

Our staff are alert to the issues around disability and we aim to make all visits to Archive pleasant and comfortable. Access arrangements are detailed on our Contact Page and we invite visitors to contact us with any further questions before visiting.

We endeavour to explain our holdings, services and conditions of access clearly and as simply as possible, avoiding jargon. We welcome feedback from users about how we can improve any of our services.

All users of the Archive can:


Remote access

The National Jazz Archive understands that access to our collections is of paramount importance. We recognise that not all current and potential users can come to Archive in person. Our online catalogue can be accessed remotely via our website.  We also welcome email enquiries and aim to respond initially to all enquiries within three working days.


Access to original documents

We provide free access to original documents in our archive study area during our published opening hours. Some restrictions are, however, inevitable because of the nature, contents, or physical condition of the unique and irreplaceable records we look after.  Some especially valuable items will only be made available by appointment.

Heavily used material may be produced only in the form of surrogate copies, such as microfilm or through digital media, to minimise wear and tear. We will work with enquirers and will endeavour to find a solution, which allows access to the required information as an original document if possible, otherwise in a surrogate or different form.


Handling of documents

The National Jazz Archive supports training of all staff and users in the correct handling of documents as a central part of conserving the collections for use by others now, and in the future. Staff will monitor document handling within the Archive Study Area and will offer advice to users on correct document handling on request, or as necessary.

Continued access to study original documents depends on users handling documents correctly.


Copying for private research

(i) Photocopies - Users can request copies of records for use in private research subject to the current Copyright law and on payment of our current charges. However, copies will not be made of records where there is a risk of damaging them.

(ii) Photograph copies - Users can photograph records themselves subject to complying with copyright law.

Copying as outlined above is only permitted where a modest number of copies is required to aid research. This is because of the inherent risk of poor document handling and copyright violation posed by large-scale copying.

Visitors who wish to copy large volumes of original documents should discuss their requirements at an early stage and will be guided towards the best solution. Staff will be able to advise on photocopying costs.

Users can ask about copies of documents using our enquiry service via email or telephone. A quote will be provided where there is a request for large scale copying and or research.


Copying for publication

Any publication of copies of our records must be agreed with the National Jazz Archive in advance and special conditions may apply. Archives are protected under copyright legislation and may not be reproduced without permission. Many of our holdings, such as journals and photographs, are subject to copyright held by others.

Please ask staff for further information.



We aim to provide free accurate information and friendly and helpful advice on our collections.

We also aim to provide access to them to members of the public in response to personal, written and telephone enquiries.

The Archive receives many hundreds of enquiries each year. We aim to answer each enquiry accurately and helpfully and to do so within three working days.

During correspondence, we may ask telephone enquirers to email us the details and we will usually answer letters by email if an email address is given.

We prefer that enquirers visit to do their own research, but appreciate that this is not always possible. We will always try to identify materials which appear to be relevant to an enquiry. However, we will, at our discretion, charge a fee where extensive research is required. As a general rule there is no charge for research which takes no longer than an hour.

The nature of archive research means that paid research may often find no answers. We do not refund where we have searched in the agreed sources but found no information. We therefore reserve the right to turn down requests for paid research where we consider that no specific relevant source has been identified or that, in our view, there is no reasonable probability of finding any relevant information.


User involvement

Users are invited to contribute suggestions, comments and complaints about our services through comment forms and talking to staff. Senior management regularly consider these contributions.

We aim to run regular surveys of our personal visitors and distance enquiry users. This is with a view to analysing the results and looking for areas for improvement.

Wherever possible, comments, suggestions and complaints are acted upon to improve our service and changes made as a result are communicated to users and to staff.

Volunteers play a major role in running the Archive and assisting with enquiries. We warmly welcome further volunteers with knowledge of jazz. The National Jazz Archive has a volunteer policy.

Volunteers are given the benefit of Volunteer Agreements which set out what is expected of and from the volunteer and the Archive respectively. Volunteers will receive training and guidance under the supervision of the Archive's volunteer organiser.

Our events and news about collections and access to them are publicised through our website and through our regular eNewsletter. Subscription to the eNewsletter is simple to arrange through a link on this website. All subscribers are requested to agree to the GDPR terms.

Our newsletter editor welcomes contributions from users and volunteers about their use of the National Jazz Archive collections.

We publicise news about our collections, interesting usage of our holdings, forthcoming events and any access issues via social media as well as on our website and we respond to user posts and tweets.


Equality of service and access

The National Jazz Archive is committed to providing services fairly to all our potential service users. Promoting equal opportunity for all is one of our core values.

We recognise, respect and value difference and diversity.

Our policy is to treat all people equally and with dignity and respect and not to discriminate on grounds of age, disability, employment status, ethnic or cultural origin, gender, marital status, nationality, religious belief or non-belief, responsibility for dependents, sexual orientation, social background, or any other ground, which cannot be shown to be justified.

In partnership with our staff, volunteers and stakeholders, we will endeavour to meet our obligations under the relevant anti-discrimination legislation, codes of practice and good practice guidelines.


Research policy

The National Jazz Archive welcomes research from anyone whether they be academics, enthusiasts, researchers, the media or someone simply making a casual enquiry. We seek to uphold best practice as set out in the Guidance of UK Research and Innovation.

Use of the Archive for academic and/or published research is conditional on compliance with best practice and the highest ethical standards as set out in the Guidance.  The details can be read on the Policies and Standards section of the UKRI website, and may be summarised as

Maintaining professional standards of honesty and openness; Recognising the standards of professional bodies; Documenting results; Questioning ones own findings; Attributing honestly the contributions of others; Willingness to  collaborate and co-operate with other researchers and groups; Taking into account the needs of young researchers; Securing and storing primary data.


Review of policy

This policy is reviewed annually by the National Jazz Archive Chair of Trustees and was last reviewed and approved in January 2020.


Find out more about our collections.