Skip to main content

Audio-Visual Records, 1947 - 2014

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 86

Scope and Contents

The collection includes four sets of oral history recordings: interviews with staff involved in site testing for the Northern Hemisphere Observatory Project, conducted by Jim Olsen (1971-1976) and Keith Tritton (1985-1986); interviews by Dr S.R.C. Malin of the National Maritime Museum with RGO astronomers (1983-1986); and the interviews by the Laurie Project (1986-1987) with RGO staff members recounting their memories of the Observatory. The remainder of the collection comprises audio-visual material recorded by RGO or NMM staff members in the course of their work, or items acquired from external sources, including copies of television and radio programmes.

Audio recordings are in classes MS.RGO.86/1-6; film and video footage is in classes MS.RGO.86/7-8. The audio recordings are chiefly on compact cassette tapes, with some CDs and 8-Track tapes.


  • Creation: 1947 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

Please note that Cambridge University Library Manuscripts Department would need to make special arrangements for audio-visual viewing or listening so advance notice is essential. Our email address is

The following classes of material are awaiting digitisation and are not currently accessible: MS.RGO.86/5, MS.RGO.86/6/2/1-2, and MS.RGO.86/7. Item MS.RGO.86/4/13 is restricted.

Biographical / Historical

The inception of the Laurie Project was in the spring of 1983 when a small team of full and part-time archival staff began work to catalogue the entire collection of the archives of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. This team increased in number over the following few years and it was later decided that as an adjunct to the conventional cataloguing of the existing historical collections it would be of benefit to create sound records of the current and retired staff of the RGO at Herstmonceux and beyond, using equipment purchased exclusively for this part of the Project's work. These recordings form the basis of what is now the class Cambridge University Library MS.RGO.86 and are catalogued at MS.RGO.86/4. At the time of the recordings made of individuals' recollections, it became clear that other sound and moving-image recordings existed in other locations of the RGO establishment and indeed elsewhere, and these were collected into this class of records.


9 archive box(es) (9 boxes) : audio tape, CD, film, video tape & paper

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Internally and externally generated records. Though provenance information for the Laurie Project's recordings is full, it is frequently very much less certain in the case of the additional material collected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copies of the cassette recordings in this class were made in 2021 by the Norfolk Record Office on behalf of the British Library's 'Unlocking our Sound Heritage' Project. Digital copies are available at the British Library and at Cambridge University Library (contact: to request access).

Related Materials

The Laurie Project's own records form part of the RGO Library & Archives class CUL MS.RGO.108; retrospective cataloguing work on this class continues but is not yet complete and the catalogue to the class is yet to be published on-line.


The description of the collection was prepared by Dr Emma Saunders, partly based on information from a card index.


The Laurie Project, RGO

Finding aid date

2015-03-18 11:09:40+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom