Archival Sound Recordings - Selected Highlights

Selected Highlights

African Writers' Club

Over 250 hours of radio programmes about African literary, social and cultural affairs. Made at the Transcription Centre in London, the recordings were broadcast throughout Africa and sometimes on the BBC World Service. Ranging from radio dramas to magazine programmes, from politics to poetry, this collection provides a view of Africa in the mid-1960s.

Art and design interviews

Intimate encounters with the life and work of British painters, sculptors, photographers and architects. Interviewees include sculptors Elisabeth Frink and Eduardo Paolozzi; painters Terry Frost, Paula Rego and Michael Rothenstein; photographers Grace Robertson, Mari Mahr and Helen Chadwick; and architects Denys Lasdun, Ralph Erskine, Edward Hollamby and Patrick Gwynne.

David Rycroft Africa recordings

South African-born linguist and musicologist, Rycroft made many field trips to villages, townships and settlements around South Africa between the 60s and 80s. Fascinated by the relationship between oral traditions and musical structure, Rycroft focused on unaccompanied choral singing, songs composed for indigenous musical instruments, and urban music.

Klaus Wachsmann Uganda recordings

Klaus Wachsmann made roughly 1,500 unique recordings of indigenous music in Uganda, most of which have never been published before. This collection dates from the late 1940s, when Wachsmann was curator of the Uganda Museum in Kampala, and includes field recordings and performances at the Museum.

Oral history of jazz in Britain

An informal and anecdotal history of the music, venues and people that defined jazz in the UK. Through interviews with musicians, promoters and label owners, this collection focuses on some of the less well known aspects of British jazz – including the impact in Britain of overseas musicians, British developments in free improvisation in the 1960s, jazz outside London, and the contribution of women to the music.

Oral history of recorded sound

This teaching package reflects in sound, image and text the cultural and economic impact of developments in recording technology over the 20th century. It also features oral history interviews with significant figures in the worlds of music, radio, and the recording industry – with a focus on backroom innovators who have rarely enjoyed the limelight.


The word ‘soundscape’ was coined by composer R. Murray Schafer to identify sounds that “describe a place, a sonic identity, a sonic memory, but always a sound that is pertinent to a place” (Wegstaff, G. 2000). This selection draws together mechanical and industrial sounds (including transport and fog-horns), soundscapes of the natural world across continents, urban soundscapes, and wildlife sounds from around the globe.

St Mary-le-Bow public debates

At one o’clock every Tuesday lunchtime for fifteen years (1964–1979), Joseph McCulloch, the Rector of St Mary-le-Bow Church in the City of London, invited a well-known public figure to debate an issue of the day. Popular amongst city workers, guests included Enoch Powell on race, Diana Rigg on single parentage, A. J. Ayer on moral responsibility, Edna O’Brien on fear, and Germaine Greer on free will.

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Vindolanda Tablets - Description - Selected Highlights
... The tablets are written in Roman cursive script and throw light on the extent of literacy in Roman Britain ... One of the tablets confirms that Roman soldiers wore underpants (subligaria), and also testifies to a high degree of literacy in the Roman army ...

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