Picken - Laurence Picken

People and horses go across Er Shun River Chieftains patrol in the morning Professor Zeng on a dangerous road Shaokou - Dianbei Dachuji Luozi (place name) Rest station Go ahead arriving Huili county City moat of Huili County, Xikang Madian -- Beside Jinsha River Go ahead in a hurry in Huili County Old lady weaving, Huili County Paddy field Highway - Xixiang Highway Highway - Xixiang Highway Copper mine, Big copper mining factory in Huili County, Xikang Mining factory in Huili County Copper smelting furnace in Huili County Mine workers, Copper mining factory in Huili County Anning River, Lifeblood of eight counties belonging to Ning, Xikang Torch, 14 June on the old calendar is the Torch Festival of the Yi People bustling with excitemen... Mine cave, Zinc mine in Tianbao Mountain, Huili Mine cave, Zinc mine in Tianbao Mountain, Huili Church, Yongdingying Catholic Church on Xihui Road, deeply rooted Catholicism in Xikang Province Church, Yongdingying Catholic Church on Xihui Road Xixiang Highway in rush repair Western-style highway under rush construction Western-style highway under rush construction Hard to cross: Tian Bao Mountain, nearby a watershed The wooden bridge that is hard to cross: Tian Bao Mountain, nearby a watershed overnight at a sacred place: Dong Yu Temple at Jiu Kan overnight at a sacred place: Dong Yu Temple at Jiu Kan Phoenix Bridge: nearby Dechang county Phoenix Bridge: nearby Dechang county Jin Chuan Bridge: made by iron chain Jin Chuan Bridge: made by iron chain Sun Shui: An Ning River Deep woods Pattern Xi Chang Basin Qiong Lake's scenery around Xi Chang county Lu Mountain Boulevard The gate of National Xikang Technical College Dormitory of National Xikang Technical College Library of National Xikang Technical College cloths dyeing Dangerous Shoal Gazing from Long Tou Mountain Yi people The Elder who carries logs on his back at Zhuhe Zhao Jue County City going forward
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Laurence Picken


  • c. 1890 - 2007 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

9 boxes paper, audio tape, cd, shellac disk, vinyl disk

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Biographical history

Born in Nottingham, 1909, Laurence Picken came up as a scholar to Trinity College, Cambridge, as a Natural Scientist and gained his PhD in 1935 in Zoology. He went on to work as an x-ray crystallographer at the Geneva School of Chemistry. In the early war years he was in charge of the blood transfusion laboratory for the eastern region, improving plasma filtration. The British Council later encouraged his learning Chinese so he could join Joseph Needham in Chungking in 1944, where his love of music extended to eastern instruments, and he learned the guqin (seven-stringed zither) among others. Throughout the rest of his life he would amass an extensive collection of musical instruments from all over the globe - when he moved out of his rooms in Jesus College in 1977 he donated his collection of nearly 700 instruments to the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
He first became a Fellow at Jesus College in 1945, continuing his work in the areas of Zoology, Oriental Studies and Music. He wrote entries on JS Bach, Chinese and Japanese Music for the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In 1960 he received the Linnean Society Trail Medal for Microscopy. A true polymath, he continued to compose and take an active interest in the musical life at College, was fluent in French, German and Chinese and refused to have a telephone until his late 80s.

His publications include:
'The Organization of Cells and Other Organisms' (1960)
'Folk Musical Instruments of Turkey' (1975)
ed. 'Musica Asiatica' (1977-84)
ed. 'Music from the Tang Court' 7 vols. (1981-2000)

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

2016: 62 - Given to Jesus College archive by the estate of Laurence Picken

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Scope and content

Personal papers of scientist and ethnomusicologist Laurence Picken, including non-academic writings, musical compositions, collections of performance ephemera - largely relating to music and drama productions at Jesus College, Cambridge - personal and College-related papers and correspondence, recordings and photographs.

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Some annotations in Chinese and correspondence in Italian.

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The majority of Laurence Picken's papers, including his academic work and correspondence, are held by the Music Division of the Library of Congress (ML31.P53)

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See also Fellowship File for Laurence Picken.

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The majority of Picken's papers can be found in the Library of Congress https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/search?searchCode=LCCN&searchArg=2011570511&searchType=1&permalink=y

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