I hope … that you’ll be … incisive, questioning … and … constructive.US President Jimmy CarterAddress to US Presidential Scholars
Robin Beth Goldman was born on 25 November 1959 in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Charney, an artist, and Charles, a mechanical engineer, their second child. Her parents moved frequently because of Charles's work, but eventually settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where Robin and her brother Bill grew up. The family environment was artistic and stimulating; both children were high academic achievers. In high school Robin was also a journalist and acted in school plays. However, she recounts that she missed her high school graduation – because she was at the White House at the time! She had been chosen as a Presidential Scholar, one of only two students (one male, one female) from each state in the USA, honoured annually with this award for academic achievement, together with extra-curricular activities. Robin's award was presented by President Jimmy Carter. She later interned at the White House. She graduated from the University of Missouri, having majored in Journalism and English. Her first job was as Arts and Entertainment Editor at a daily newspaper in Iowa, the Iowa City Press Citizen, where she revelled in attending every performance and exhibition that the city could offer.
When Robin was an undergraduate she joined the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and continued her membership during her years in Iowa. She found fulfilment in pursuing medieval calligraphy, illumination, and poetry, becoming a kind of “poet laureate” for her ability to produce suitable verse for ceremonies at short notice. As a project for a Rare Books class in graduate school, Robin had made a “medieval” book of the Middle English poem Pearl, writing the text in a Gothic cursive script, including full-page illuminations, sewing the leaves together with hand-spun linen thread, and hand-binding the manuscript in vellum. Unknown to Robin, she was nominated for, and granted, membership of the SCA's Order of the Laurel, with this manuscript cited as her masterpiece. Remarkably, considering her later status in the medieval dress/textile world, it was not for costuming that Robin received this honour.
However, Robin had started sewing in fourth grade, having taken an after-school course, and she had begun helping other SCA members with basic costuming, developing, as she did so, an interest in garment construction which would flourish in future years.