BSIP Cataloguing Policy

This policy is used in the cataloguing of all sources.


In general the BSIP database includes all depictions of bowed stringed instruments. It does not include wheel-based instruments such as the hurdy-gurdy, symphony, organistrum etc.

Primary sources

  • All original art dated 800 CE to the present regardless of medium;
  • Photographs prior to 1950 CE of musicians, instruments;
  • Photographs post 1950 that have historic value and significance. This includes pictures of folk/traditional practices, and prominent musicians.

Secondary sources (such as material published in books)

  • For photographic reproductions, only included if a good image of the original is not available, or where the image adds to the quality of the information presented. This is particularly useful for works that have not yet been obtained, lost and destroyed works).
  • Illustrations will be included in their own right, as they are a derivitive work, and marked as copies after the original with relationships between the sources added.

Printed Sources

Printed materials can cause problems, as printing is a reproduction system. In general, all prints from the same plates will be catalogued together as a single source. What is most critical is when the plate was made, rather than when the print was made. If the print date differs it will be noted in the image notes.

Plate state change (re-working of plates) alters the depictions. As the resultant picture is different from the original it will be catalogued as a separate source and relationships between the sources will be added.

Hand-colouring of printed material results in an element of uniqueness in the artwork, and the people involved may differ. Hand-coloured prints are therefore catalogued as separate sources, and relationships between the sources will be added.

Sensitive Material: Sexually Explicit/Erotica

The BSIP database does include a few works which fall under this category. These works are all published by major national museums and are already freely available to view on the Internet without any barriers. We have therefore followed the publishing policy of these national museums. Fortunately the nature of the works, and the general exclusion of post-1950 photographs except where they have historic value avoids most of these issues.

Sensitive Material: Race, Slavery & Exploitation Issues

Black Lives Matter logo BSIP supports Black Lives Matter. End Racism.

There are images in the BSIP database which cover a wide range of subjects, both positvely and negatively. There are images both for and against slavery, that show slaves, immigrants and indigenous peoples. The light in which these portrayals have been made represents the views of the artists and are of their time.  As such it tends to be a mirror on societies and social attitudes, and therefore at times can reflect the brutal side of history.  These images do NOT represent the views of BSIP. The BSIP database is not an edited history, but a reference database of source materials.

Barry Pearce
Sep. 2020