The Warren Lamb Archive – Cataloguing Update

The University of Surrey is immensely fortunate to hold the archives of the movement theorist Warren Lamb. In this blog post, our Archivist Simon Mackley provides an update on the work carried out on the collection, and the collection items that are newly available for researcher consultation.

Various typescript scripts from the Warren Lamb Archive, in an overlapping arrangement, with handwritten annotations.
A selection of broadcast scripts from the Warren Lamb Archive, mid-20th century. [Archive reference: WL/7/14]. © University of Surrey Archives & Special Collections.

Warren Lamb (1923-2014) was a dancer, movement theorist and management consultant. Best known for his pioneering work on Action Profiling (later known as Movement Pattern Analysis), Lamb took theories of movement – which were originally formulated by Rudolf Laban for the world of dance and performance and further explored in factory settings during WWII – and applied these with great success to the world of business and industry.

Work has been ongoing to catalogue Lamb’s extensive archive collection, which includes his personal and professional papers, published works, and the records of his management consultancy company Warren Lamb Associates. Last year, to mark 100 years since his birth, we were delighted to release the catalogue for the first two archive series, making these materials generally available to researchers for the first time. We are pleased to announce that since then we have now catalogued and released two further series, which this update now explores.

Included in the catalogue for the first time are Warren Lamb’s publication files. This series comprises draft texts and manuscripts prepared by Lamb, including for works that were never published in his lifetime, or that were only published in heavily amended form. Many of the texts contain Lamb’s own edits and annotations, as shown below in his draft text for Movement & Personality. Additionally included within the series are Lamb’s correspondence with publishers and co-authors, copies of published articles and research papers, and promotional materials relating to his published works. Taken as a whole, the files are a fascinating resource for studying the development and application of Lamb’s ideas over the course of his career.

Pages from a draft manuscript from the Warren Lamb Archive showing edits and annotations.
Pages from Warren Lamb’s draft manuscript of Movement & Personality, c.1957, showing edits and annotations. [Archive reference: WL/4/1]. © University of Surrey Archives & Special Collections.

Also catalogued for the first time are a series of files relating to Warren Lamb’s appearances on broadcast media and in video recordings. Among the highlights in this series are the scripts (pictured below) for an episode of BBC’s Mainly for Women programme titled ‘Movement Betrays You’ (1959), which featured Lamb and his first wife Joan Carrington in conversation with the presenter McDonald Hobley. Also included is the transcript for Lamb’s 1967 appearance on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, in which he demonstrated the application of Action Profiling as a management selection technique. These documents can give a valuable insight not only into how Lamb marketed his ideas to a general audience, but also about the ways in which Action Profiling sat within the wider technological thinking and culture of the age.

Selection of typescript scripts and handwritten notes for a television broadcast feature Movement Betrays You, in an overlapping arrangement.
Scripts and notes for ‘Movement Betrays You’, a feature for the television programme Mainly for Women, 1959. [Archive reference: WL/7/15]. © University of Surrey Archives & Special Collections.

In making these materials available, we hope the collection will form a valuable resource for students and scholars not only of movement theory but also additional fields of study for which it has relevance and potential. Work to catalogue the remaining portions of the collection continues, and we will post further updates in due course as more series are released.

Visit out online catalogue to browse the full list of available items from the Warren Lamb Archive, including the new releases from these two series.