Dr Matthew Stephens
Matthew Stephens is research librarian at the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection. He is particularly fascinated by early book, musical instrument and sheet music collections in NSW and the stories they tell.
Addicted to the historical research process, Matthew has reframed the biography of the eighteenth-century British cross-dressing soldier, Hannah Snell, rediscovered the lost library of explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, and completed a PhD on the early history of the Australian Museum Library and the origins and use of scientific literature in nineteenth-century Australia.
More recently, Matthew has led the interpretation of the history of domestic music in SLM’s house museums. Since 2015 he has been SLM’s representative in the Sound Heritage network (UK) and is a contributor and co-editor of the forthcoming book, ‘Sound Heritage: Making Music Matter in Historic Houses’ (Routledge). He has collaborated with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, on numerous projects including as convenor of SLM’s ‘Sound Heritage Sydney’, an international symposium held in 2017 exploring music in historic houses. In 2019, Matthew curated the ‘Songs of Home’ exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, which examined the musical landscape of NSW during the first 70 years of European settlement.
Research projects led by Matthew on the reinstatement of part of the dispersed Macleay family library at Elizabeth Bay House and the Dowling Songbook Project have received National Trust Heritage Awards.