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Goldsmiths' College archives

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2603 Goldsmiths College
Held at: Goldsmiths College, University of London
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Full title: Goldsmiths' College archives
Date(s): [1896-2001]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: c 60 shelves
Name of creator(s): Goldsmiths' College


Administrative/Biographical history:

The New Cross site which now houses the Goldsmiths' College, University of London, started life in 1843 as the Royal Naval School, a boarding school for the sons of officers in the Royal Navy and Marines. In 1889 the property was sold to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths for 25,000 and was re-opened by the Prince of Wales in July 1891 as the 'Goldsmiths' Company's Technical and Recreative Institute', though it was always known simply as the 'Goldsmiths' Institute'. The intention of the Institute was the 'promotion of the individual skill, general knowledge, health and well being of young men and women belonging to the industrial, working and poorer classes', and broad subject teaching was supplemented by certificates and prizes awarded by the City and Guilds Institute, the government Science and Art Department, and the Society of Arts. Instruction was also given for London University pass degrees in Science. All this was generously funded by the Goldsmiths' Company, and by 1900 there were over 7,000 enrolled students, also attracted by thriving social, sporting and academic clubs and societies. The governing body of the Institute consisted of the Prime Warden and Wardens of the Company, 7 members of its Court and 6 co-opted members. The day-to-day running was left to a Secretary (the first being J.S. Redmayne) and 150 staff. Activities of the Institute included a School of Art and a series of evening classes and lectures.

1902 saw a new Education Act, which was followed by a London Education Act. To make certain of inclusion in any London educational scheme, and to prevent the Goldsmiths' Company from being subject to a local authority, a proposal was made to offer the Institute as a going concern to the Education Authority for London. In the end, the Institute was offered as a gift to the University of London, with the condition it was always used for educational purposes; the proposal was accepted in April 1904. Interim committees were set up to decide the future of the Institute, and in Autumn 1904 a new Goldsmiths' College Delegacy was created, which was responsible to the University of London Senate. The first Chairman of the Delegacy was Sir Edward Busk (1904-1919). The Warden was the only member of College staff in direct contact with the governing body. Much of the administrative work was undertaken by the two Vice-Principals. From this moment on, the Goldsmiths' College was divided into three functions: the Training Department, the School of Art and the Evening Department. It had already been decided that the Institute was to become a Teacher Training College, where students would take the two-year Certificate of Education course.

The Goldsmiths' College was formally opened on 29 September 1905. Constitutionally it was in an anomalous position, being owned by the University of London and having no legal or constitutional independence, whilst being funded by the Ministry of Education and the London County Council. The Delegacy maintained very little control over the various activities of the College as it did not pay for them, and the hope that the College would become a School of the University of London remained unrealised until 1988. At this point, Goldsmiths' College was the largest teacher training institution in the country, and the only one maintained by the University for teaching a two-year certificate of Education course. It was also permitted by the University to teach for University degrees (1907). Training functions were later expanded to include refresher courses for teachers, the University Postgraduate Certificate in Education and an Art teacher's Certificate course. The College also ran its own Nursery School. In 1947 the College became a Department of the London University Institute of Education; and in 1950, the decision was made that Goldsmiths' College students should no longer read for internal degrees of the University. The new Bachelor of Education degree was introduced in the early 1960s, and the Department was renamed the 'Department of Arts, Science and Education'.

The School of Art continued at Goldsmiths' College under the control of the London County Council, which decided to develop it in the direction of higher education in Art, as opposed to training for trade and crafts. The School claimed to provide advanced instruction in such subjects as drawing, painting, modelling, design, book illustration, etching and lithography. Under the headmastership of Clive Gardiner (1929-1958), the School of Art developed into a respected institution which produced a group of etchers known as the 'Goldsmiths' School'. During this period it began teaching the Art Teacher's Certificate course (1938). It began teaching painting and sculpture diploma classes in 1962, and textile and embroidery courses the following year. These courses were re-christened BA courses in 1975, and supplemented by degree courses in Fine Art and Art History. Most of the evening adult education courses offered by the Goldsmiths' Institute came to an abrupt end in 1905 after it was handed to the University of London.

The Science, Building and Engineering Departments, which all provided evening teaching for University degrees, remained outside the new teacher training remit, and struggled to survive without regular financial support from the University. From 1915 onwards, science teaching was concentrated in an Engineering and Building Department, though at a lower academic level than before. Following years of negotiations regarding technical training in east London, the Peckham and Lewisham Literary Institutes were merged on the College site in 1931, and reopened as the College's Evening Institute (known later as the Evening Department of Adult Education. The Evening Department flourished after the war, expanding its classes into a wide range of subjects, such as literature, music, drama, philosophy, science and history. The Evening Students' Association was extremely active in attracting new clients. In 1965, the Evening Department was renamed the 'Adult Studies Department', and changed its teaching emphasis to cater for the demand for more advanced work, such as part-time degree courses, Open University courses and postgraduate study. Another emphasis was put upon community education, exemplified by the creation of a Community Education Centre at Lee Green in 1973.

In 1976, an internal reorganisation led to the creation of five 'Schools', including a 'School of Education', which had to deal with a sharp reduction in the number of students, leading to its incorporation of St Gabriel's in Camberwell and the Rachel McMillan College in Deptford (1973-1977); the 'School of Adult and Community Studies'; and the School of Art. There was to be one single Academic Board for all five schools (a sixth was added 1980 when School of Adult and Social studies divided in two). Another major internal reorganisation occurred in 1986, with the six schools being compressed into three faculties and number of individual departments reduced by a series of amalgamations. The Goldsmiths' College was created a School of the University of London in 1988 (Royal Charter 1989) - though the possibility of a merger with Queen Mary College was mooted and discussed in 1984-1985 - on condition that it did not replicate teaching at other schools, but concentrate on its own specialisms. To this end Science teaching came to an end and the Science Department and the Rachel McMillan building were transferred to Thames Polytechnic.

The buildings which the Goldsmith's Company presented to the University of London had been erected to the designs of the architect John Shaw. They consisted of a rectangular building with two parallel wings surrounding a cloistered quadrangle which was closed by a building known as the 'school room'. A further quadrangle behind led onto the playing fields. Few alterations have been made to the original building: the quadrangle was roofed over in 1891 to create the Great Hall, the chapel converted into a lecture room in 1892, and the School of Art built on the second quadrangle in 1908. During World War Two, Goldsmiths' College moved to University College, Nottingham, though the School of Art remained in London and evening classes were suspended. The College buildings were severely damaged by bombing in 1940 and 1944. Full college activities were not restored until 1947. All students were housed in College hostels until well into the 1960s. Following the College's Jubilee in 1955, changes began to be made in the administration. The first Registrar was appointed in 1958. The government-led rise in student numbers led to new buildings being erected to accommodate them - these included the Education building and the Gallery (1968), the Warmington Tower (1969), a Student's Union extension (1975), a gymnasium and Craft block (1962), and the Whitehead Building (1968). The College also had the use of the Rachel McMillan building in Deptford (later given to Thames Polytechnic) and the Millard building in Camberwell (sold in 1988). A large part of the School of Art was housed in the latter until the building of a new library in the 1980s allowed it to return to the main site.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Goldsmiths' College, University of London, comprising:

Governing Body material such as minutes of the Goldsmiths' College Delegacy, 1904-1988; minutes of the Managing Committee of Goldsmiths' College (later the Governing Body), 1907-1939; Annual Reports, 1936-1992; reports and financial statements, [1990s]; minutes of the Academic Board, [1988-1991]; minutes of College committees, 1979-1994, including the College Services Sub-Committee, the Residential Provision Advisory Group, the Buildings and Maintenance Sub-Committee, the Committee on the Future Status of the College, the Warden's Advisory Group, the General Purposes Committee, and the Refectory Services Advisory Group.

Papers relating to the Training Department, including minutes of the Academic Board, [1935-1947]; statistics of applications for admission, 1929-1946; Student Handbooks, 1910-1916, 1921-1926; prospectuses, 1906-1958; lists and photographs of students, 1918-1956; photographs of groups of students, all named, 1921, 1923-1925; staff registers, 1905-1936; minutes of staff meetings, 1905-1946; estimates of the Department of Education and Science and the Inner London Education Authority estimates, 1969-1975; volume of Training Department Hymns and carols, 1910.

Papers relating to the Evening Department, including announcements of events and courses, 1948-1949, 1954-1966; sessional papers, [1954-1960]; log of the Department, 1954-1970; notebook containing personnel notes on staff and students, 1954-1969; miscellaneous material relating to the Department, especially its future, 1897-1970s; prospectuses, 1931-1932, 1937-1939, 1946-1955; programmes for 'the rally', an annual At Home of the Department, [1951-1961]; statistics, 1960-1965, including student enrolment and exam results; material relating to the Ian Gulland Memorial Lecture, 1978-1987; prospectuses of the Evening Department, the Department of Adult Studies, the Department of Continuing and Community Education, the School of Adult and Community Studies, and the School of Adult and Social Studies, 1962-1988.

Prospectuses for the School of Art, 1963-1974.

Papers relating to the Library, including Annual Reports, [1967-1987]; Library Accession Registers, [1920s]-1968; minutes and papers of the Library Sub-Committee, 1954-1979; and Library Bulletins, 1970-1977.

Goldsmiths' College material, including College Prospectuses, 1975-1998; College Ordnances and Regulations, 1988-1994; prospectuses for the Department of Arts, Science and Education, 1962-1974; prospectuses for part-time courses, 1979-1999; Goldsmiths' Handbook, 1896-1897; College Calendars, 1960-1994, and staff handbooks, 1966-1977; and student pass lists, 1995-1996.

Papers concerning buildings, notably material relating to alterations and adaptations to the Wrotham Building and Margaret McMillan House, [1970s]; as well as files on the staffing of Rachel McMillan House, [1970s].

Papers of Goldsmiths' College staff, notably records of George Cecil Wood, Registrar, 1958-1977, mainly comprising correspondence regarding the administration of the College; records of Shane Guy, Secretary and Registrar, [1978-1991], notably on financial management, the building of the new Library, and strategic issues; and records of Anthony E. Firth, Deputy Warden, 1977-1989, comprising correspondence files on subjects including the National Centre for Orchestral Studies, staff reviews, the Council for National Academic Awards, visitations, PR material, the various Schools of the College, the Scheme of Management, the Students' Union, attempts to gain School status with the University of London, student accommodation, building management, the charter and statutes, the future of the College, the Finance Office, and links with Queen Mary and Westfield.

Lee Centre Archive, 1973-1991, including publications, 1974-1991; minutes of staff meetings, 1973-1991; papers relating to the bar and social club, 1973-1986; minutes of the planning committee, 1973-1986; reports and notes on the reading scheme and basic studies, 1973-1990; papers relating to residential weekends, 1974-1990; conference papers, 1988-1989; details of courses, 1981-1991; reminiscence projects, 1981-1989; library and bookshop records, 1984-1986; files relating to the history of the Centre; newsletters, 1974-1984; and publications, 1985-1988.

Papers relating to student associations, including material concerning the Old Students' Association, 1906-1989, including minutes, membership lists, accounts and yearbooks; papers of the Goldsmiths' College Association, 1981-1989, including minutes and letters from members; records of the Evening Students' Association, 1934-1988, including minutes, accounts, student lists, and a visitors book; correspondence of the ESA, 1984-1989.

Material relating to the history of the College, [1893-1960], notably photographs, articles, press cuttings and reminiscences; press cuttings relating to Goldsmiths' College, 1978-1999; photographs of Goldsmiths' College exteriors and interiors, 1905-1920; and photographs of buildings, [1980s-1990s].

Publications, including copies of The Goldsmithian (also known as Smith), 1892, 1906-1959, 1961; copies of Smiths' News, the student magazine of Goldsmiths' College, 1972-1976, 1985; copies of The Anvil, magazine of the Evening Students' Assocation, 1935-1949; copies of Hallmark, the newsletter of Goldsmiths' College, 1988-[2001]; and the Goldsmiths' College Staff Bulletin, 1978-1990.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The material is mainly arranged in record series.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment. Contact the Deputy Librarian for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Deputy Librarian.

Finding aids:

Basic finding aids available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The Goldsmiths' College Archive has always been maintained on one site. Some material was lost during World War Two bombing.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Dorothy Dymond The Forge: the history of Goldsmiths' College (Methuen, London, 1955); Anthony E. Firth, Goldsmiths' College: a Centenary account (Athlone Press, London, 1991).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2002

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