Explore your Archive: Daphne Oram and the Oram Collection

Goldsmiths library and Special Collections have been excited to participate in the Explore Your Archives social media events taking place this week across archives nationwide, seizing the opportunity to show off some of the interesting and unusual items we have to stimulate academic curiosities. As you may have noticed from our twitter output today (13th November), it’s ‘selfie’ day and we’ve been using the opportunity to show off the variety and depth that Special Collections has to offer. So far we have tweeted selfie images of the Women’s Revolutions Per Minute, Women’s Art Library and our Daphne Oram archive collections that we house, the latter of which you can see below:

The particular item on display in this ‘selfie’ is Daphne Oram’s (1925 – 2003) personal computer, one of many items from Oram’s personal collection Special Collections is pleased to house within its archives. Oram was a central figure in early British experimental electronic music, famous for her involvement with the widely influential BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the eponymous Oramics computer music system she designed.

A gifted musician, Oram decided against pursuing a career in classical music, turning down a place at the Royal College of Music to join the BBC and co-found the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. During this period she developed a combined interest in technology and artificially produced sounds. Oram’s approach was informed by the rigid modernist technique of Pierre Schaffer’s musique concrète and other avant-garde musical aesthetics of the time. Such musical movements challenged dominant modes of classical music composition by introducing sonic details procured from the technological and cultural upheavals of post-war society. She would weave these experimental influences into her compositions with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. During this period she also began the research that would lead to the creation of Oramics, a new technique of sound synthesis. Not only was Oramics one of the earliest forms of electronic sound synthesis, it was also innovative through its pioneering of the audiovisual interface in music production.

Daphne would leave the BBC in 1959, though her research on the Oramics project would continue. The completed Oramics machine required the composer to physically draw onto a synchronised set of ten 35mm film strips overlaying a series of photo-electric cells. These drawings, when processed through the Oramics machine, would generate electrical charges to control amplitude, timbre, frequency and duration. Oramics was remarkable for being one of the first devices to engineer sound from electricity, an undoubted influence on the synthesizers and digital music suites of today that are able to produce a similar spectrum of synthetic sound. It should be noted that there was something of a difference in size however, as the Oramics machine was far from a portable device – requiring an entire room to be fully operational. The complete Oramics machine can currently be viewed at the Science Museum​ in London (more information here).

Here at Special Collections in Goldsmiths Library, we hold many materials relevant to Oram’s work, taken from her own personal archive. In 2007, Goldsmiths College collaborated with the Sonic Arts Network to bring this collection into the academic community where it can be properly studied and developed​. These include not just the personal computer shown in the ‘selfie’ but a whole plethora of useful materials relating to her work. This includes papers on her work at the BBC, design notes on the Oramics system, personal photographs, musical scores and scripts and much more.

​You can learn more about the Oram archive and our various other collections here, or directly get in touch by emailing Special Collections or calling (+44) 020 7717 2295.

Talking Textiles

Dorothy LintonHmong hat

Talking Textiles is a once monthly lunch time get-together for anybody interested in textiles or curious to find out more. A small selection of textiles from the Goldsmiths Textile Collection is available for viewing and discussion at the Constance Howard Gallery. For those keen to be involved further, there is the opportunity to research a chosen textile and to share findings or questions at the following session.

The Goldsmiths Textile Collection includes works by Goldsmiths alumni and other textile artists, collections of teaching samples, ethnographic and historical textiles and dress and print and archival materials relating to textiles. A diverse range of examples is on view at Talking Textiles and over the next few sessions will include a boy’s hat made by the Hmong people of Northern Thailand, an illustrated St. Johns Ambulance bandage from WW1, a felt sculpture by the artist Dorothy Linton and a sample of Victorian beetle wing embroidery.

Dorothy Linton 2Bandage detail

After the viewing, there is a chance to share your own textile projects and chat with other textiles enthusiasts over tea and coffee. The event is open to the public, as well as Goldsmiths students and staff and is an opportunity to foster relationships and share knowledge across disciplines and between different communities interested in textiles.

The next event is at 1 pm on Thursday 13th November.

For more information visit

beetle wing s 4986

Women of Colour Index Project: Gillian Elinor Donation

Profile of Rita Keegan

Profile of Rita Keegan

We are extremely excited and pleased to announce the commencement of the Women of Colour Index Project which has been made possible by the kind donation of Jonathan Rosenhead in the name of Gillian Elinor, a feminist activist and arts educator responsible for Feminist Arts News and contributor and supporter of Women’s Arts Movement, Women  Artists Slide Library (now the Womens Art Library located in Goldsmiths Special Collections) and the Head of Art and Design at UEL.

This is a 12 month project focused upon a collection within the Women’s Art Library charting the emergence of Black Women’s art in the UK during the ‘Critical Decades’ of the 1980s and 1990s. The collection comprises ephemera, press cuttings, exhibition catalogues and slides of individual artworks and installations. The project will create archival records of the material to be widely shared online through our own Archive databases and Archives Hub. In addition the collective X Marks The Spot in collaboration with original coordinator Rita Keegan will explore new connections and themes that have emerged in the subsequent years and relaunch the Women of Colour Index. The final phase will be an event celebrating the Women of Colour Index Project and The Gillian Elinor Donation.

Regular updates on the project will be available through the Library blog, for more information please contact Althea Greenan

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology engineering and maths.


Augusta Ada King,

Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852)

English mathematician and writer, and collaborator on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

Ada Lovelace Day this year will be held on Tuesday 14 October. Over the coming year, will develop into a resource for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as for parents, teachers and lecturers who care about encouraging girls and young women to enter the STEM disciplines.

For more information on FindingAda and Ada Lovelace:


Twitter: @FindingAda

Facebook: FindingAda

Interested in learning more about women in STEM ?

Have a look at our reading list of books and special collections in the Library:

Material on Ada Lovelace

Conceving Ada

Leeson, Lynn Hersman. (1997)

(DVD Collection) 791.43737

Ada Byron Lovelace: To Dream Tomorrow

Arnholtz , C Frances, Fuegi, J. (2003)

(DVD Helpdesk Collection) A34

Documenta (13): Ada Lovelace

Krysa, Joasia. (2011)

(Special Collections) SCP 709.051 DOC/LOV

Ada a Life and a Legacy

Stein, Dorothy. (1987)

510.92 STE

The Bride of Science

Woolley, Benjamin. (1999)

510.92 WOO

Francis, J Fuegi J. 2003 Lovelace and Babbage and the Creation of the 1843 ‘Notes’ IEEE Computer Society Washington DC

Charles Babbage Pioneer of the computer

Hyman, Anthony. (1982)

510.92 HYM

Material on Daphne Oram

The Daphne Oram Archive

Please refer to or come a speak to a member of staff in the Special Collections and Archives office.

An individual note : of music, sound and electronics

Oram, Daphne (1972)

(Special Collections) 789.9 ORA

The Woman from New Atlantis (Article)

Wilson, Dan. The Wire Magazine London (No. 330, Aug 2011)

780.5 Periodicals

Daphne Oram

(Special Collections) Women’s Art Library Artist File

The Daphne Oram Tapes, Vol. 1

Oram, Daphne (2012)

CD 7838

Oramics / Daphne Oram.

Oram, Daphne (2007)

CD 6052-53

Four aspects / Daphne Oram.

Oram, Daphne. 2003.

CD 5011-12

Not necessarily “English music” : a collection of experimental music from Great Britain, 1960-1977.

Leonardo music journal (Vol 11, 2001) CD 7457

An anthology of noise and electronic music : second a-chronology, 1936-2003.

Sub Rosa (2003)

CD 5011-12

Women in Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology

Women Composers and Music technology in the United States

Hinkle-Turner, Elizabeth. (2006)

Ashgate Aldershot

780.973082 HIN

Women of Mathematics: A Bibliographic Sourcebook

Campbell, P Grinstein, L. (1987)

Greenwood Press Inc. Westport

510.92 WOM

Women in Science, Engineering and Technology: Three Decades of UK Initiatives

Alison Phipps (2008)

Trentham Books Ltd

331.4815 PHI

Women in Science: A Social and Cultural History

Ruth Watts (2007)

Routledge 509.2 WAT

Cyberfeminism and Artificial Life

Kember, Sarah. (2003)

Routledge London

113.8 KEM

Complexities: Women in Mathematics

Anne M. Leggett (2005)

Princeton University Press

510.92 COM

Scientists Anonymous: Great Stories of Women in Science

Patricia Fara (2007)

Wizard Books

(School Practice Collection) 509.2 FAR

Feminism and Science (Oxford Readings in Feminism)

Evelyn Fox Keller (Editor), Helen E. Longino (1996)

OUP Oxford

Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries

Sharon Bertsch McGrayne (2001)

Henry (Joseph) Press

Margaret Alic 2001 Hypatia’s Heritage: A History of Women in Science from Antiquity to the Late Nineteenth Century The Women’s Press Ltd

H. Patricia Hynes 1990 Reconstructing Babylon: Essays On Women And Technology. Earthscan Publications Ltd

Portrait of Ada Lovelace is courtesy of Creative Commons

Richard Hoggart

So who was Richard Hoggart? Staff Bulletin June 1984-1

Ever roamed around the Richard Hoggart Building and wondered who he was?

Richard Hoggart was The Warden for Goldsmiths between 1976-1984, and today in the Library we are celebrating what would have been his 96th birthday.

Hoggart, who sadly passed away earlier this year, was certainly an extraordinary man who had an extraordinary career. Starting as an lecturer in the English Literature department at Hull University, he then moved on to New York’s Rochester University, followed by Leicester University, and in 1964 established the Centre for Cultural Studies at Birmingham University. In 1970, he moved away from academia to take on the role of Assistant Director General at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris; but it was his last position before retiring, as Warden at Goldsmiths, that eventually that drew him back to academia.

Throughout his career he was not only a member of numerous public bodies, boards and committees including the Arts Council, The New Statesman, the Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting and the Royal Shakespeare Company, but also a broadcaster, and author of a long list of articles, essays and books, including his most famous work ‘The Uses of Literacy’ published in 1957.

In 1960 Hoggart was called as an expert witness for in the ‘Lady Chatterley Trial’, defending Penguin Books decision to publish D.H. Lawrence’s novel. In 2006 Andrew Davies dramatised the trial in The Chatterley Affair, with David Tennant taking the role of Hoggart.

On Friday the 31st of October Goldsmiths will be hosting a memorial event to celebrate the life and work of Richard Hoggart. Throughout the day Goldsmiths will be screening The Chatterley Affair and host a series of talks on the life and work of Richard Hoggart. More details to follow via .

Richard Hoggart Archive: Cataloguing Project

Starting in October, Special Collections and Archives will be working on a project to catalogue papers of Richard Hoggart here in the Library. For more information on the Hoggart Archive please contact Special Collections and Archives at .

Margaret Jennings: The Living, Taking and Giving Back Library

A Participatory Experience


Art student, Margaret Jennings, has transformed the book shelves at the entrance of the Library into an alternative living library of found materials.

The discarded items have been collected, categorized, arranged and offered for re-use by others. People are invited to take objects away and replenish the shelves with those that they find.

‘…juxtaposed against the historically and culturally revered library context, the newly categorised and arranged objects, evoke the beginnings of a re-appropriated transformative journey of stuff’ Margaret Jennings.

People are encouraged to re-work and transform the objects they take into new forms, using their imagination in a way which prompts questioning over the value of discarded materials and their relationship with consumerism.

Through this playful and participatory work, the artist prompts reflection upon a throw-out-buy again mentality and suggests alternatives for environmental responsibility.

Margaret is documenting participation in the Living Library. Images of objects taken and transformed, as well as objects given back to the library will be shared via this blog. Please e-mail to contribute your images.

For more information about Exhibitions in the Library visit

Update from Special Collections

Yesterday, staff from Special Collections had a rather busy evening with Althea Greenan (Women’s Art Library Curator)  speaking about WAL  at the Centre For Feminist Research’s ‘Launch: Take Two‘.

Alice Measom (Archivist) attended the launch of a Fred Inglis’ new book:  ‘Richard Hoggart: Virture and Reward’. Richard Hoggart was Goldsmiths Warden 1976-1984 .   A copy of this book is now available in the library, alongside Hoggart’s celebrated book ‘The Uses of Literacy’ (1957).  Special Collections and Archives also hold some of Hoggarts papers – for more information see here. If you would like to view these papers please contact us at .

Using Special Collections & Archives for Research

Old bookspace

As part of Dissertation Week in the Library, Special Collections are running a session on how to use the resources in your research and what help is available from Library staff.


Special collections and archives contain a wealth of information for research and inspiration. Use of primary sources will make your research stand out, but archives can sometimes be daunting. In this session we’ll answer the questions:

* What are ‘archives’ and ‘special collections’?

* How can they be used in my research?

* How do I get started?

* What collections are available in London and how do I access them?

This introductory session is open to all. You will have a chance to handle collection objects and ask questions.

See you there!

Wed 12 Feb, 14:30-15:15,
Special Collections Reading Room

Christine Risley Award 2013

photo via: UWE

Entries are welcome for the Christine Risley Award for outstanding work relating to textiles. This is a fantastic opportunity for final year undergraduate students of any department to gain recognition for their work with textiles. There is a £500 prize to be won. Submission specification is below, for more details, contact the Constance Howard library in Deptford Town Hall

Submission specification
  • The student must be enrolled in an undergraduate course at Goldsmiths.  The student must be in his/her graduating year at the time of submission.  The Award is open to a student of any discipline.
  • The work has to relate to an area of textiles. It may encompass any media and must be practice-based/creative work.
  • The jury will view the work at the final degree shows. If a student wishes work to be considered that will not be at a final degree show, please contact the curator at by 5 pm on Monday 20th May 2013.
  • The winner will receive £500. The Gallery may wish to purchase the winning work, for which a separate sum of money will be paid.
  • The judges retain the right not to award a prize.
  • In exceptional circumstances the award may be given for post graduate work.

Sourcing the Archive

‘Sourcing the Archive: new approaches to materialising textile history’.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Carolyn Steedman, University of Warwick
Dr Solveigh Goett, Textile Artist and Researcher. 

Textiles attract through their sensory appeal – their texture and weight, smell, malleability, sound, retention of owners’ and makers’ bodily traces – factors only fully appreciable through physical engagement with them. Yet many, especially modern, historians have relied – often of necessity – on documentary or visual sources to research textile history. The 2013 Pasold Conference, jointly organised by Goldsmiths Department of History and the Goldsmiths Textile Collection will explore how tacit knowledge of material and affective relationships can be traced through the words we think with (Lakoff & Johnson 1999, 2003) with a view to asking: how can our engagement with textile sources extend our knowledge of the past? What can textiles communicate that other sources cannot? Building on a range of recent events which encourage engagement with the materiality of textiles, textile archives and/or the relationship between textiles and other historical sources the Conference will seek to identify textiles’ unique contribution to the advancement of historical understanding and practices.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers/presentations from historians, practitioners, writers and scholars in any discipline and concerned with any period or region. Proposals from postgraduate students are warmly welcome. Themes for papers may include, but are not limited to the following and we encourage creative interpretation of the overall conference theme:

– The unique value of textiles as historical sources.

– The relationship between physical and other (documentary, visual, digital) textile sources.

– The nature and purpose of physical textile archives in a digital age.

– The extent to which the value of physical engagement with textiles can be recovered when the textiles no longer exist.

– The challenges of, and solutions to, disseminating research findings which demand physical engagement with textile sources.

– The value of the materiality of textiles for cross-cultural/disciplinary interactions and writing about history.

Proposals, c. 250 words (and enquiries) should be sent to: by June 7 2013 Goldsmiths’ acclaimed history of innovative work in the textile arts will be celebrated during the Conference with a special exhibition of material from the Goldsmiths’ Textile Collection, ‘an eclectic, international treasure trove of textiles’. There will also be an optional afternoon of object handling in the Collection to generate discussion around new ways of writing history.